Domestic consumers’ kitchen tap water tested in a study that included homes in Milton Ulladulla has found copper in 100 per cent of samples and lead in 51 per cent.
“The two contaminants present a concern for public health due to their frequent occurrence and high concentrations,” Macquarie University researcher Paul Harvey said.
Mr Harvey focused the early part of his study heavily in the Milton Ulladulla area, returning several times to analyse residents’ domestic tap water.
“Milton Ulladulla area samples are in the mid-range of results and a number show elevated detections, therefore I am still concerned,” he said.
“Any householders who are worried can get retested - vigilance is always the key.
“If anyone is really concerned about their tap maybe it’s time to change it over to a steel variety.
“Also, filters work quite well. A large number number of companies provide filters that will eliminate 99 per cent of contaminants.
“Analysis of household plumbing fittings, such as taps and connecting pipework, show these are a significant source of contamination.”
Mr Harvey has just released final results, which he also expanded down the South Coast before sampling at other locations around NSW.
"Copper exceeded Australian Drinking Water Guidelines in five per cent of the samples and lead in eight per cent.”- Paul Harvey
No single study has previously done large-scale regional sampling to determine the extent of water contamination in household kitchen sinks, Mr Harvey said.
Participants in the study were asked to draw samples from their kitchen tap after a nine-hour stagnation period to simulate filling a kettle first thing in the morning.
“Of my detections, copper exceeded Australian Drinking Water Guidelines in five per cent of the samples and lead in eight per cent,” Mr Harvey said
“Since drinking and household water sampling took place across NSW, this is not a spatially-isolated problem.
“Domestic supplies across Australia are likely to be subject to similar concentrations.”
Mr Harvey suggested there was a significant health risk for consumers, particularly infants consuming formula, and pregnant women.
Previous studies over the last two decades have also revealed potable water contamination in Australia, mainly from lead used in the roof catchments of tank supplies and corrosion of plumbing fittings in small study cohorts.
“The results of this study demonstrate that along with other potential sources of contamination in households, plumbing products that contain up to 2.84 per cent of detectable lead are contributing to contamination of household drinking water,” he said.
“Given that lead in particular is known to cause significant health issues, products for use in contact with drinking water should be manufactured free from lead.”
Email the author, Paul Harvey, email@example.com, for a copy of the paper.
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