With more than two-thirds of homeowners not knowing if their water is supplied through potentially harmful lead water pipes, WaterSafe, the UK register for approved plumbers, is urging everyone to ‘take the scratch test’.
A recent survey of 2,000 homeowners by WaterSafe revealed 68% don’t know if they have potentially harmful lead water pipes in their property.
Water used for drinking and cooking which has been supplied through lead pipes can lead to a build-up of lead in the body. This can be bad for health – especially for babies and children, whose development can be affected.
A further 53% of homeowners don’t know that it’s their responsibility to replace lead pipes they find in their home, should they choose to replace them with copper or plastic ones approved for tap water.
Julie Spinks, director of WaterSafe, said: “We’re asking property owners to do one thing during Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (Oct 21-27) – check your homes and business premises for lead water pipes, especially if you have an older property.
“It’s quite simple – find the water pipe where it enters your home, which is usually in a kitchen cupboard or under the stairs.
“Lead pipes are normally dull grey and soft and if you scrape the surface gently with a coin you’ll see shiny silver-coloured metal underneath. It’s quite distinct from copper or plastic. (If the pipes are painted just scrape the paint off too).”
WaterSafe has made a short film showing how to take the ‘scratch test’ and how to reduce lead levels in water. This can be watched online here.
The use of lead in plumbing has been banned in the UK for more than 25 years, so it’s houses built before 1970 which are most likely to have lead pipes.
Homeowners who find they do have lead pipes should contact their water supplier who can test the levels of lead in the drinking water and offer advice on replacing them.
WaterSafe recommends employing an approved plumber from its UK register to replace pipes, as they are fully qualified in the water supply regulations and are promoted by water companies to keep drinking water safe in homes. Find local, approved plumbers using a postcode search on the WaterSafe website.