WaterSafe Warning after Kitchen Fitter Fined for Illegal Use of Lead Solder on Water Pipes

WaterSafe is warning about the dangers of employing unqualified plumbers after a kitchen fitter illegally used lead solder on plumbing carrying drinking water.

Using lead solder on any plumbing carrying drinking water can lead to unsafe levels of lead, which poses a health risk.

Kitchen fitter Geoff Chudley, from Torquay, was fined £2,250 after pleading guilty to seven counts of the illegal use of lead solder in the fitting of kitchens.

He was prosecuted by water company South West Water during a hearing at Newton Abbot Magistrates Court in March under the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999.

The water company’s routine monitoring showed drinking water in several homes exceeded the legal limit for lead.

WaterSafe, which approves plumbers who are qualified in the water supply regulations, is urging homeowners and businesses to check if their plumber is registered with WaterSafe, before letting them start work on any plumbing connected to the mains water supply.

Julie Spinks, Director of WaterSafe, said: “The use of lead pipes to supply drinking water and the use of lead solder to join pipes has been banned in the UK for more than 30 years.
“Plumbers who are properly trained in the water fittings regulations know this and are fully qualified to make sure tap water in homes and businesses is kept at the same high standards as when it’s supplied by water companies.
“We would urge anyone thinking of hiring a plumber to check if they are registered with WaterSafe, and if not, to search for a WaterSafe-approved plumber near to them, at watersafe.org.uk.”

Lead is a dangerous metal which can cause serious poisoning if it builds up in the body. Babies and young children are most at risk as their development can be affected.

If the water supply to a home or business passes through lead pipes, or someone has used illegal lead solder to join pipes, the lead can dissolve into the drinking water. Lead-free solder should always be used for drinking water connections.

Bob Taylor, South West Water’s Operations Director for Drinking Water Services, said: “We monitor the quality of our drinking water at our customers’ taps and unsatisfactory lead results are investigated to protect public health. We will take action against anyone who is found to be using lead solder on potable supplies."

Notes:

The court case took place at Newton Abbot Magistrates Court on March 26, 2018, when Geoff Chudley, from Torquay pleaded guilty to seven charges. He was prosecuted by South West Water under the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999, which govern how plumbing systems are installed, used and maintained, ensuring the safety of public drinking water.

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