To understand the potential contribution from customers’ fixtures and fittings to the risk of lead, nickel and chromium concentrations failing drinking water standards, with a particular focus on lead.
We currently know the concentrations of lead, nickel and chromium typically detected at the customers’ tap. This water has travelled through the communication pipes, supply pipes and associated fittings. However, we do not have an understanding of the relative contributions of pipework and fittings within the customers’ property.
Lead has been identified as a cumulative neurotoxin with no discernible no-effect threshold and we therefore seek ways to reduce levels further. The industry is now driving for compliance at a lower standard - 10µg/l, and discussions around revisions around the Drinking Water Directive indicate an even lower 5µg/l standard in the future.
There is an increased risk, therefore, of failing the drinking water standards due to customers’ fixtures and fittings. There is also an unknown risk associated with lead compliance if the water industry stops phosphate dosing. This situation would occur when all lead pipes within water company ownership have been replaced.
This project forms the second project that looks at lead within UKWIR’s Big Question ‘How do we achieve 100% compliance with drinking water standards by 2050?’.
The project will build on previous UKWIR research into lead, such as project DW/15/04/16: Brass fittings as a source of lead & nickel in drinking water – long term leaching studies. What is different about this project is that it will look at fixtures and fittings, along with water quality, in a non-controlled environment, in customers’ properties. This project will help us understand the prevalence and relative contribution of lead.
As this project surveys and samples customers’ property it will be vital to get the UK and Ireland Public Health Bodies involved.