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Short film produced to highlight health risks of lead pipes

Video created by World Health Organisation for Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2017

A short film from WaterSafe has been launched to highlight the potential health risks of lead pipes that supply water for drinking and cooking.

The film is being launched to coincide with Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2017 (October 22 to 28), which is run by the World Health Organisation.

Lead dissolving into drinking water from lead pipes can be harmful if it builds up in the body – especially for babies and children, whose development can be affected.

The use of lead in plumbing has been banned in the UK for more than 25 years, so houses built before 1970 are most likely to have lead pipes.

However, newer homes are not entirely safe. Lead solder used for jointing copper pipes as a low-cost alternative by DIY enthusiasts or unqualified plumbers can also put drinking water at risk.

Presented by WaterSafe member and UK Plumber of the Year 2016 Shaun Scott, the film offers clear solutions to ensure homeowners have the correct pipes and fittings.

It provides advice on:

  • how to recognise lead pipes
  • why it’s important to use lead-free solder
  • what your water company will do to help
  • precautions to reduce lead levels in the short term
  • using a WaterSafe approved plumber to safely replace lead pipes with copper or plastic ones.

Julie Spinks, director of WaterSafe, said: “The plumbing in homes is the responsibility of the homeowner, so we are urging all households to spend a few minutes today checking if they have lead pipes.

“To safeguard health we would recommend replacing lead pipes that supply drinking water to bathrooms and kitchens with copper or plastic ones. All plumbers on the WaterSafe register are trained in the water supply regulations and are promoted by water companies to keep drinking water safe in homes.

“If you’re replacing pipes within your boundary, make sure you contact your local water company, as they may be able to replace the pipes beyond your house and garden.”

Most water companies can also test the levels of lead in the water and offer advice on replacing the pipes.

To watch the film and for more advice visit the WaterSafe website: watersafe.org.uk/lead