Aussies are being urged to be cautious when drinking tap water with fears household taps could be contaminated with lead.
The government warning, that was issued around six months ago but not publicised, claims people should run taps for at least 30 seconds before using water for drinking or cooking with growing concerns surrounding lead poisoning.
An investigation by News Corp Australia has also revealed the limit in brass plumbings fittings will be slashed by as much as 94 per cent.
Although it is unusual to find lead in drinking water service pipes in Australia, the Environmental Health Standing Committee or enHealth which represents the Commonwealth, state and territory health departments plus the National Health and Medical Research Council, claimed Australians still need to be aware of the risks associated with drinking tap water.
Infants and children are identified as those most vulnerable to lead poisoning which could ultimately lead to problems with brain development.
However, contamination could also cause damage to digestive, cardiovascular, renal and reproductive functions, in both the young and old.
“Risk will vary, however, depending on the individual, the circumstances, and the amount of water consumed,” the statement from enHealth claimed.
“For example, infants who drink formula prepared with lead-contaminated water may be at a higher risk because of the large volume of water they consume relative to their body size.”
According to the statement from enHealth, lead can dissolve into drinking water from some brass plumbing fittings, particularly where water has been sitting in contact with the products for long periods of time. The leaching can be more significant in hot water.
This limit was set in the 1990s however, the World Health Organisation has since announced that no level of exposure is safe.
According to the Daily Telegraph, following questions to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, a department spokesman claimed enHealth has made recommendations the allowable level in Australia be reduced. However, no decision has been made as to what this new level will be.
In order to reduce the chances of contracting poisoning, Aussies are being urged to use water from cold taps only for drinking and cooking, and to let water run for around 30 seconds first thing in the morning to draw fresh water through the tap before using.
If you are away for long periods of time, the government department encouraged people to increase the flushing period to two or three minutes.