Master Plumbers, Gasfitters & Drainlayers renews the call to ban lead in drinking water, with further evidence that New Zealanders are still at risk from this invisible poison.
CE Greg Wallace says lead has been removed from paint and fuel, but the government is ignoring the potential health risk caused by lead in domestic drinking water.
“Australians are taking a much harder line on this and are considering introducing lead-free taps and brass plumbing products. Still, the New Zealand government doesn’t seem interested in taking stronger measures to protect New Zealanders.”
Greg Wallace says Master Plumbers have once again provided proof that it is possible to purchase tapware in this country that contains lead in levels far exceeding New Zealand’s drinking water standard of 10 micrograms per litre.
In a random sample conducted this month, Master Plumbers tested five faucets purchased online. It found that three of the faucets contained lead above the allowable limit – with one a massive 11 times more.
“The government must stop ignoring this evidence. Lead is a cumulative toxin, making continued exposure through drinking water a particular concern. The World Health Organization has ruled that there is no known safe blood lead concentration for humans, but here we are in New Zealand ignores this health problem.
“Babies and children are the most vulnerable and exposure can lead to severe, irreversible neurological and behavioral effects.”
He says the Department of Health’s answer to the problem is to run a kitchen faucet for 30 seconds every morning to get rid of the lead dissolved in the water.
“Taking this approach does not address the risk. It can reduce the risks of lead contamination, it does not remove lead from drinking water.
“The real answer is certainly New Zealand saying we don’t want lead in our drinking water. Like the Australians, we should try to switch to lead-free taps and brass plumbing.”
Greg Wallace says the government should also introduce a mandatory third-party testing and verification regime for plumbing products to ensure they actually comply.
“Without this, there is no way for the public to know that the taps they drink from are safe.”
A review of New Zealand’s standards for sanitary products is one of the recommendations in the report on the health system’s response to the recent lead contamination of Waikoutaiti’s drinking water.
“Master Plumbers wants to see this happen urgently,” Wallace says.
“The plumbing products installed in our homes and public water supplies should be fit for use at the end of the story.”
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