Is your child at risk from dangerous lead levels in household tap water?

Baby bottle feeding

A government-issued health advisory warns families that children and babies may be at risk of lead poisoning thanks to old pipes or older brass fittings that lurk in some homes’ plumbing.

Formula-fed babies at higher risk

In a warning issued back in July, the enHealth newsletter states that infants are particularly at risk. This is not a new issue, but rather an ongoing problem that they’re again making the public aware of.

“Infants and children are especially vulnerable as lead can impair brain development,” the enHealth article reminds us. “Therefore, people should take every opportunity to limit their exposure to lead.”

“Infants who drink formula prepared with lead-contaminated water may be at a higher risk because of the large volume of water they consume relative to their body size,” the warning states.

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Better safe than sorry?

Pregnant women are also potentially at risk from the effects of ingesting lead from plumbing.

Parents are urged to adopt some simple practices to keep their family safe. These include:

  • Only using water from the cold tap for drinking and cooking.
  • Turning the cold tap on for 30 seconds first thing in the morning before using the water for drinking and cooking.
  • Turning the cold water tap on for 2 or 3 minutes to “flush” the system after long periods of non-use such as holidays.
  • Choosing products that are low lead or lead-free if building or upgrading plumbing

leaking tap

Old copper pipes and brass fittings the culprit

EnHealth goes on to explain that while lead exposure is minimised in most households and everyday products, plumbing is still an area of concern.

“Lead is still used in the manufacture of a range of plumbing products, such as brass fittings. These products are widely used in drinking water systems in homes, buildings and associated water supply points, such as drinking water fountains. Some older homes and buildings may still have old copper pipes with lead-based solder.”

baby with bottle

Avoid the hot tap, run the cold tap first

It’s important to note that boiling water does not remove lead. In fact, heated water – even that coming through the hot water tap – may cause more dangerous metals to be dissolved in the water.

“There is no need for households to have their water tested for lead,” the warning concludes. “The recommendation is to follow the good practice measures above. By following these measures you can also reduce your potential exposure to other metals in plumbing, such as copper and nickel.”

*runs to the shop to buy water filter*

Government-issued health advisory warns babies may be at risk from tap water.

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