MPA ACT Endorses New Lead Reduction Reforms
ACT’s peak plumbing body has commended the federal government’s announcement to reduce the permissible concentration of lead in plumbing products that are in contact with drinking water, from 4.5% to 0.25%.
The 3-year transition will commence following the adoption of the updated National Construction Code in September 2022.
Master Plumbers ACT (MPA) Chief Executive Officer, Claire Howe, said the Association had been working with stakeholders including the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) over many years to eliminate the potential for lead to end up in people’s bodies through ingesting contaminated water.
Ms Howe said “MPA and our stakeholder are passionate in our work to support best possible public health outcomes, which is why addressing the issue of lead leaching from plumbing products is so important.”
“It’s well known that lead is a cumulative toxicant that can lead to plumbism (chronic lead poisoning), with the World Health Organization stating there is no level of exposure that is known to be without harmful effects.”
“Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system.”
“Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight.”
(World Health Organization, 2019)
“Australia’s current permissible lead limit of 4.5% can’t continue to be justified when other countries, including USA and Canada, have had the far lower limit of 0.25% for years.”
The Australian government previously advised the community that hot water has the potential to leach lead more quickly, and a similar issue occurs with water that is first out of the tap, having sat in pipes for longer.
In 2018 the government issued the following warnings:
- Only use water from cold water taps for drinking or cooking;
- Always flush these taps for 30 seconds before using first thing in the morning.
Ms Howe said that with the current boom in home renovations and new builds as a result of the HomeBuilder Grant, the community may be unaware of the dangers of using cheap, illegal & non-compliant products.
“MPA urges all Australians to only purchase products that display the WaterMark Certification Scheme symbol. A fixture, fitting or pipe that carries this symbol has met the required Australian Standard for use, including meeting the lead content requirements for products in contact with drinking water.”
“MPA strongly advises against buying cheap products online which do not display the WaterMark logo – these products are actually illegal to install. If you choose to illegally install them, as well as breaking the law, you are putting your family’s health at significant risk.”
The ABCB has agreed to a 3-year transition period following the adoption of the next version of the National Construction Code in September 2022. This delay will enable products to be recertified under the WaterMark Certification Scheme to prove they comply with the Code.
Pictured Above: Example of WaterMark-certified, lead-safe product produced by Galvin Engineering.