Sutton and East Surrey Water is urging its customers to be ‘lead aware’ when it comes to making sure their drinking water stays safe.
The call comes during Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (23-29 October 2016), a campaign led by the World Health Organisation to raise awareness of the devastating effects of lead on both people and places.
Lead is known to be a harmful and can pose a health risk if too high a concentration is ingested, and so the installation of new lead pipes to supply drinking water and the use of lead solder to join pipes has been banned in the UK for more than 25 years.
However, lead pipes may still exist in some older properties and it is still possible to buy lead solder for use in domestic heating systems. In fact, according to the plumber accreditation body, WaterSafe1, cases of lead poisoning have still been recorded around the UK following the use of lead solder by DIY enthusiasts or unqualified plumbers who are unaware of the danger it poses to drinking water.
Nicola Houlahan, Quality and Compliance Director at Sutton and East Surrey Water said: “Our drinking water is of the highest quality and we invest a lot of time and money in making sure it is safe to drink and use.
“Our drinking water does not contain naturally occurring lead. However, if the water passes through lead pipes, or someone has used lead solder on pipes supplying drinking water – which is in fact illegal – the lead can dissolve into the drinking water.
“We specifically treat the water to minimise the amount of lead that dissolves into the water, but in some cases lead can still be detected above the drinking water standard.
“We would encourage anyone having work done on their household plumbing to use trusted and qualified plumbers, registered with the industry body WaterSafe.
“These plumbers have undergone specific training in the Water Fitting Regulations and Byelaws which are designed to keep customers’ drinking water safe and in the same quality condition that is supplied to their home or business.”
There are strict laws governing the amount of lead in drinking water and Sutton and East Surrey Water regularly carries out tests on its own network and at customers’ properties.
Homes built before 1970 may have lead pipes so homeowners who believe they may have them are advised to contact Sutton and East Surrey Water for advice. The company may carry out a test to check the levels of lead in the water and will offer advice on replacing the pipes with new copper or plastic ones approved for supplying drinking water.