WaterSafe is working with Scottish Water and the Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland to encourage homeowners to check if their water pipes are made of lead.
The use of lead plumbing has been banned in the UK for more than 25 years because lead dissolving into drinking water can be harmful if it builds up in the body – especially for babies and children, whose development can be affected.
However, research by WaterSafe shows nearly two-thirds of homeowners in Scotland have never checked to see if they have lead water pipes.
Drinking water report
The campaign follows the publication of the annual drinking water quality report last month by the Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland.
While it confirmed drinking water in Scotland is of high quality, with 99.9% of samples meeting the required standards, it also showed that some homes are still being affected by lead pipes. These are mostly found in homes built before 1970.
To raise awareness, WaterSafe is advising homeowners to seek help from an approved plumber to identify and replace lead pipes. Plumbers on WaterSafe’s UK approval register are all trained in the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Byelaws and supported by Scottish Water.
Replacing lead plumbing inside homes, and to the property boundary, is the responsibility of the homeowner, although WaterSafe’s research shows only half of households are aware of this.
‘Fresh and healthy’
Julie Spinks, director of WaterSafe, said: “WaterSafe-approved plumbers have an important role to play in helping homeowners identify lead pipes and take steps to replace them to keep their drinking water fresh and healthy.
“We’re encouraging homeowners who have an approved plumber working in their home to ask them to take a couple of minutes to check for lead pipes and, if they need replacing with copper or plastic ones, to obtain a number of quotes to get them replaced.”
Michael North, Scottish Water’s byelaws team manager, said: “Customers can ask us to sample their water for lead they should contact us at 0800 0778 778 or at email@example.com. There is more information on our website at scottishwater.co.uk.”
You can watch a film that gives more information for homeowners at watersafe.org.uk/lead.
The film stars former UK Plumber of the Year and WaterSafe member Shaun Scott and provides advice on:
- how to recognise lead pipes
- why it’s important to use lead-free solder
- what Scottish Water will do to help
- precautions to reduce lead levels in the short term
- using a WaterSafe plumber to safely replace lead pipes with copper or plastic ones.