Back in the day, lead was used in almost everything. Electrics, paint, pipes. The list goes on.

Lead has been found to be harmful for our health, which means it's important to know if you're exposed.

Is there lead in my water?

When water leaves our treatment works and water mains, it doesn’t contain any lead. However, water can pick up traces of lead if it flows through old lead pipework.

 

Lead can be found in the pipework which goes from the water main to the inside of your home. Lead can also be found in brass fittings and lead-based solder used on copper pipes.

How can lead pipes be bad for me?

Lead is soluble. That means when water runs through lead pipes, lead could dissolve into the water.

Are my pipes lead?

One way to find out is to use the good old 'scrape test'. 

 

Go to the water supply pipe under the kitchen sink and gently scrape the pipe with a penny.

 

If this causes a shiny, silver mark, your pipes are made of lead.

If my pipes aren't made of lead, what are they made of?

The most common types of pipe are copper, plastic and iron. 

 

Copper is bright, but over time dulls to a brown colour.

 

Iron is a very hard, dark material, so the scrape test shouldn't cause shiny marks. 

 

Plastic, which can vary in colour but is often blue, grey or black.

What should I do if my pipes are made of lead?

First things first, don't panic. There are ways to reduce the amount of lead in your water.

 

Of course, the best way to reduce the risk is to replace lead pipes with a new and modern pipe. We recommend swapping to plastic or copper.

 

If you do choose to change your pipes, always get a reliable plumber. Check for reliable plumbers at watersafe.org.uk

 

In the meantime, you can also:

  • run the tap first thing in the morning, to flush out standing water
  • only use the cold kitchen tap for drinking and food preparation, as hot water can dissolve more lead
  • change the water in your kettle every time you use it, and
  • use approved fittings and equipment on your water system.
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