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No Level Of Lead Is Safe In Drinking Water, Says Master Plumbers

Master Plumbers is deeply concerned that residents of Karitane and Waikouaiti are reporting symptoms of lead poisoning following the contamination of the local water supply.

Whilst the cause is still being investigated, the incident highlights the very real risks of lead entering household drinking water.

"Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects," says CEO Greg Wallace.

"The World Health Organization deems that no level of exposure is safe."

For a long time now, Master Plumbers has been calling for the Government to stamp out lead in plumbing products sold in New Zealand by introducing a mandatory third-party verification scheme similar to the Australian WaterMark.

Australia introduced WaterMark in 2017, following several high-profile cases of poor-quality products in public water systems and Master Plumbers believes it is high time New Zealand followed suit.

In 2018, Master Plumbers commissioned independent testing of five tapware products sold in this country and found the level of lead leaching from one product to be 70% higher than the allowable limit in drinking water product standard AS/NZS 4020.

In New Zealand, the threshold is 10 g/L, compared with 5 g/L in countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Canada-and just 0.25 g/L in the United States.

"We want the New Zealand standard to be made mandatory and brought in line with the rest of the world," says Wallace.

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"As things stand, tapware and pipework coming into New Zealand are not being tested. As a result, there is a high risk that unsafe products may be being used in our homes, schools and hospitals."

The current sector-wide building products review being undertaken by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is not the right place for dealing with this issue, he says.

"Safe drinking water must be prioritised, as the health of New Zealanders is at stake. It is too important not to get right."

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