Full Text → lead_in_plumbing_products_and_materials-fluoride-macquarie-university

We reprint this document because it is good practical health advice, especially
when considered leads affinity and association with fluorides.

Review authors:

Mark P. Taylor, BSc (Hons), PhD
Paul J. Harvey B Env (Hons), PhD
Anthony L. Morrison BSc (Tech), M Env Sci, PhD

Macquarie University Centre for Energy and
Environmental Contaminants Department of Environmental Sciences

Faculty of Science and Engineering
Macquarie University, Sydney 2109

New South Wales, Australia Contact email: Date: 18 June 2018 


The summary list of Findings and Recommendations to the Australian Building Codes Board
below should be read in conjunction with the above-mentioned section of this Report.


  1. The Australian and international research literature shows that brass components containing lead that are used in water supply and plumbing systems can leach lead into drinking water.

  2. Where lead service pipes are present they contribute an estimated 50-75% of lead contamination in drinking water collected at the faucet (tap) in homes.

  3. There is potential for confusion in regard to the required use of lead-free solder in systems that may be used in contact with drinking water systems.

  4. The international research literature shows that multiple factors influence the passivation and release of lead from plumbing products and materials into drinking water.

  5. Where water service lines are made of copper, replacement of standard brass-lead taps with ‘lead-free’ taps results in a relative percentage reduction in the mass of lead delivered in the first litre of dispensed water. However, the use of ‘lead-free’ taps may not totally eliminate the presence of lead in dispensed water.

  6. Galvanic reactions may occur along the length of the pipeline as well as in locations where lead solder has been used on copper pipe – brass fitting joints.

  7. Remedial treatment of plumbing systems experiencing persistent problems associated with elevated levels of lead can be achieved via the implementation of a range of physical and chemical strategies.

  8. The use of chloramine to disinfect water can result in the release of lead into drinking water systems.

  9. Contrary to the approach used in Europe, there is no requirement in the Australian Standards to test for changes in hydraulic flows on the potential release of lead into drinking water systems.

  10. The European approach described in EN-15664 (Parts 1 and 2) results in the licencing of materials. This approach permits licenced materials to be used for the construction of appropriate plumbing components without the necessity for further ongoing testing of individual items.

  11. Lead contamination of drinking water from plumbing products and materials can also be influenced by:(a) its age – the length of time water has remained unflushed in pipes (water age)
    (b) demand – relatively low use (which can be caused by dead ends in plumbing systems) can result in increased retention time and greater opportunity for corrosive activity and the leaching of lead from in-line and end-of-line fittings to occur.


  1. In order to limit the release of lead into drinking water, consideration should be given to recommending that only low lead or preferably lead-free1 plumbing components should be used during installation of drinking water systems.

  2. Water supply authorities in all Australian states should be contacted to confirm the extent of lead water piping still remaining in use.

  3. Australian Standard AS 1834.1—1991- Material for soldering: Part 1 Solder Alloys should be amended to explicitly ban the use of solders containing lead in all drinking water systems.

  4. In order to more realistically determine the risk of lead leaching from plumbing products and materials it may be necessary to revise the existing test protocols detailed in AS/NZS 4020:2005 – Testing of products for use in contact with drinking water.

  5. Notwithstanding the finding that lead can contaminate drinking water from both mains and premise piping, replacement of the tap with a ‘lead free’ alternative reduces the potential burden of lead at the point of delivery.

  6. Where practical, in and end-of-line fittings should be replaced with lead free options.2

  7. Review the use of chloramines in drinking water supplies in Australia and undertake new testing to determine its effect on the leaching of lead from plumbing fittings and materials under Australian conditions.

  8. Consider adding hydraulic testing as part of the standard approach to testing appliances pursuant to the requirements of AS/NZS 4020:2005.

  9. Consider whether adopting the approach of licencing materials as detailed in EN-15664 (Parts 1 and 2) would be more advantageous to Australian manufacturers of plumbing fittings and components than the existing arrangements that relies on product certification.

  10. Consider whether there is need for formal guidelines relating to the flushing of water service lines where there is or has been:

    (a) low water demand
    (b) standing water in services lines for extended periods,
    such as at schools following vacation periods. 

    Reproduced by:


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