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Lead drinking water pipes: risk for children

  1. The Health Council warns against the risks of lead water pipes. You will mainly find such pipes in old houses â € “in the Netherlands it concerns 100,000 to 200,000 houses. What are the dangers, how do you know if your home has lead pipes and what does it cost to replace them?

  1. In general, Dutch tap water is safe to drink. Around the turn of the century, the water companies replaced almost all lead pipes outside the homes. As a result, the quality of our drinking water has only improved. However, if you still have lead water pipes in your home, you still run risks.

Risks of lead pipes

  1. Lead is a heavy metal and when the drinking water runs through lead pipes, tiny particles of lead end up in your body. This poses particular risks for formula-fed infants, young children up to and including 7 years old and pregnant women (because of the unborn child). Babies who are bottle-fed are especially vulnerable: their intestines absorb lead more easily and their brains are developing rapidly. According to the Health Council, bottle-fed babies ingest thirteen times too much lead, while young children take in three times too much lead through lead water pipes. According to calculations, this can lead to an IQ that is 2 to 5 points lower. A

Advice for lead pipes in your home

  1. The Health Council now recommends replacing lead water pipes as soon as possible. Until that has happened, it is better to use bottled water for babies and young children - and certainly also for the preparation of bottle feeding. The same advice applies to pregnant women: to protect the unborn child, they should use bottled water instead of tap water.

Check if your house has lead pipes

  1. If your home was built after 1960, don't worry: from that time on, the construction industry no longer used lead pipes. If you live in an older house, there may still be lead pipes running through your walls. The easiest way to check this is at the water meter - usually in the meter cupboard. You can see the pipe running on both sides of the meter. Are those pipes a dull gray in color, do they make a dull sound when you hit them with a spoon, and do they appear a silvery color when you run over them with a piece of sandpaper? Then your house has lead pipes.

Lead in my new-build home?

  1. You will not find lead pipes in new-build homes. Nevertheless, as a resident of a new-build home, you must also be careful. New pipes can also release metals to the drinking water in the first months. That is why the Health Council recommends that the taps run properly for a few months before using the water. This advice also applies to people who have the pipes in their home replaced or have them replaced.

Replace lead lines; How much does that cost?

  1. If you still have lead pipes, it is wise to have them replaced. You can also do this in stages to spread the costs. If you choose to, at least start with the pipes that supply your kitchen with water - that's where you get the most drinking water from. If you want to replace the entire pipe system in your home, you have to take into account a cost item of approximately 1,400 euros.

Who pays for that?

  1. The water company is responsible for the water pipes up to your front door. All these water pipes have - if all goes well - have since been replaced. If you have any doubts about this, you can always contact the water company. The pipes in your own home are your own responsibility. Replacing it is therefore also your own responsibility and at your own expense. If you live in a rental home, it is best to contact the landlord of the home. Incidentally, the Health Council advocates a generous subsidy scheme for homeowners, so that they replace their lead pipes more quickly. The council also proposes to oblige home sellers to have a reliable lead measurement done, so that buyers know where they stand.

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