Action needed to review lead levels in plumbing products

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Master Plumbers is keen on the recommendation by the Ministry of Health to review current plumbing standards with regards to allowable lead levels in imported tapware and fittings.

The recommendation forms part of the Ministry’s review of the health system response to the lead contamination in Waikouaiti’s drinking water supply.

“Whilst the recommendation is a good one, New Zealand needs to move to lead-free tapware and brass fittings as a matter of urgency,” Master Plumbers chief executive Greg Wallace says.

Lead is a cumulative toxin, which makes ongoing exposure through drinking water of particular concern.

Nervous system damage

Young children are especially vulnerable, with even low levels of exposure linked to learning disabilities and nervous system damage.

“No level of lead is acceptable,” Wallace says. “Other countries, including Australia, are moving to lead-free tapware and brass fittings, and New Zealand should be following suit.

“It is not enough to tell home owners to run the tap before drinking if the water has been sitting for a while, as the Health Ministry’s advice currently stands.”

The Health Ministry has indicated that the new national drinking water regulator Taumata Arowai will be best placed to take account of the recommendations once the Water Services Bill is enacted.

The full review can be found at https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/review-health-response-waikouaiti-water-supply-lead-contamination.

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