Aussies warned about risk of lead poisoning from drinking tap water
Aussies are being urged to be cautious when drinking tap water with fears household taps could be contaminated with lead.
The government warning, that was issued around six months ago but not publicised, claims people should run taps for at least 30 seconds before using water for drinking or cooking with growing concerns surrounding lead poisoning.
Although it is unusual to find lead in drinking water service pipes in Australia, the Environmental Health Standing Committee or enHealth which represents the Commonwealth, state and territory health departments plus the National Health and Medical Research Council, claimed Australians still need to be aware of the risks associated with drinking tap water.
Infants and children are identified as those most vulnerable to lead poisoning which could ultimately lead to problems with brain development.
However, contamination could also cause damage to digestive, cardiovascular, renal and reproductive functions, in both the young and old.
“For example, 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.” According to the statement from enHealth, lead can dissolve into drinking water from some brass plumbing fittings, particularly where water has been sitting in contact with the products for long periods of time.
The leaching can be more significant in hot water.
Australia currently permits up to 4.5 per cent lead content in brass fittings which is 18 times higher than the US and Canadian standard of 0.25 per cent, the Daily Telegraph reports.
According to the Daily Telegraph, following questions to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, a department spokesman claimed enHealth has made recommendations the allowable level in Australia be reduced.
However, no decision has been made as to what this new level will be.