Access to safe drinking water isn’t something to take for granted—it’s a privilege. And yet, new research has found that it may also be a serious problem.
A study conducted by Macquarie University found Australian household tap water is frighteningly contaminated. In the samples collected across 212 NSW residences, 100% contained copper and 51% contained lead.
To conduct the study, participants were asked to draw samples from their kitchen tap after a nine-hour ‘stagnation’ period. In other words, the water you’d use to fill your kettle first thing in for a morning cuppa or baby formula.
According to the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG), 5% of the samples exceeded the maximum amount of copper and 8% exceeded the maximum amount of lead. But it begs the question: should we be allowing any at all?
Macquarie University professor and lead author of the study, Paul Harvey doesn’t think so. He says both contaminates present a concern for public health due to their frequent occurrence and high concentrations. If we’re sticking to our 2-3 liters per day, it’s a large amount of lead and copper to accumulate in the body, which can have adverse effects on our health.
According to the World Health Organisation, “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe.” Lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury across multiple body systems affecting brain development, behaviour and more. Similarly, prolonged exposure to copper can have a number of side effects. Most notably, it may lead to liver damage, heart problems and anemia.
“As the sampling of household water took place across NSW, the widespread distribution of samples with elevated copper and lead concentrations demonstrates that this is not a spatially-isolated problem, and that domestic supplies across Australia are likely to be subject to similar issues,” Harvey says.
“There is a significant health risk associated with consumers, particularly infants consuming formula and pregnant women.”
The high use of lead in pipelines across Australia is cause for concern for all household tap water. That’s why we recently installed a Zip Water tap in the Amodrn office. By using a filter directly at the faucet, we can be sure that our water is safe for drinking. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it has a minimal, sleek design to compliment our HQ and offers boiling, chilled and even sparkling water on-demand. “Sparkling or tap?” We have both.
If you don’t live in Australia, you may want to check the water quality in your country … the USA’s outlook may even be worse.