Can you get oxygen from drinking water
The legal situation
The new Drinking Water Ordinance has been in force since January 9, 2018. The current limit value for lead is 10 µg / l (micrograms per liter).
The health problem
Lead is a heavy metal with various harmful effects on health. Children and unborn babies in particular are at risk, as lead has toxic effects on the developing nervous system. A number of studies have shown that intelligence and child development are negatively affected by the insidious ingestion of lead.
Are lead lines banned from now on?
There is no explicit prohibition, but the new limit value can only be complied with if the drinking water has not previously flowed through any lead pipes. Thus, the new limit is tantamount to a ban on lead lines.
Which houses are affected?
In the area of the Harburg water procurement association, the drinking water that is pumped and distributed does not contain any lead. The use of lead pipes for supply lines and house connections has not been permitted since the association was founded. In the past, such lines were also rehabilitated in the networks that were taken over.
Since 1973 there has been a general ban on lead pipes in house installations throughout Germany. That means houses that were built before that can be affected.
How do I know if there are lead pipes?
Inspection of the house building documents. In the basement, water pipes are usually exposed:
- Knock test, no metallic sound
- Lead lines are silver gray
- the soldering points have a bead
- Lead lines are soft and can be scratched with a coin
- Lead lines are flexible and therefore partly laid in curved lines
If necessary, have an installer accompany you to check the lines.
Ask homeowners, property managers, caretakers. Since December 1st, 2013 the owner has been obliged to inform the tenant if lead lines are present.
In addition, you can have the lead content in drinking water determined by an approved drinking water testing agency. You can ask your health department or the NLGA which examination centers are near you. Find out about the offer for risk groups (families with babies and small children, pregnant or breastfeeding women)
What can be done
1. Let the water run off!
If the measured values in the tap water are significantly increased, it is advisable to let the water - which has been in the pipe for a longer time - run off. It is known that water stagnant in the pipe becomes enriched with metals as a result of dissolution processes. For example, water should be allowed to drain from the tap in the morning until it is no longer colder. Any other use of water in the apartment, e.g. by using the toilet, showering, washing dishes, etc., can significantly shorten the necessary drainage time. Only then should water be taken for drinking purposes.
However, it is better not to use the water to prepare food for babies and toddlers and instead use packaged water with the label “suitable for the preparation of baby food”.
2. Control of the house installation
In some cases a more extensive water test for lead may be necessary to clarify whether there are lead pipes in the house installation. Because other pipe materials, such as brass fittings or galvanized iron pipes, can also give off small amounts of lead. The so-called staggered stagnation sampling is suitable for such an extensive investigation. It is based on a recommendation by the Federal Environment Agency and generally includes three samples that are taken after the water has drained and stagnated. Such measurements are carried out by approved drinking water inspection bodies. You can find out which laboratories these are from your health department.
Check, for example, visible drinking water supplies in the basement. Lead pipes are soft, gray, often laid in arcs due to their flexibility and can be scratched with a coin. The “bare”, shiny lead can be seen at the scratched point. An installer can help you check it.
What can tenants do if lead lines have been found in the building?
Inform your homeowner and work with them to achieve a quick renovation. If you need legal advice, e.g. with regard to the key words rent reduction or the right to terminate, you can contact the German Tenants' Association, for example. (Link www.mieterbund.de)
What Should Home Owners Do When They Find Lead Lines?
Distribution of drinking water that exceeds the limit value of the Drinking Water Ordinance for lead is prohibited and may even be a criminal offense!
Since 01.12.13, landlords have to inform tenants if there are lines made of lead in the system they operate.
In addition, homeowners must have their home installation examined by order of the health department.
Install new water pipes made of harmless materials. You can find out from your installer which material is best.
Do all lead lines have to be removed?
House and apartment owners are responsible for ensuring that the legal limit values are adhered to within the house. If lead lines are used in the house installation, they have to be exchanged for pipes made of other materials, as the lead limit value can otherwise hardly be adhered to. Since lead line sections may have been partially replaced by other pipe materials during renovations in the past, an expert assessment and planning of the renovation measure is necessary. You can advise installers on this
Is it true that old, calcified lead lines release less lead due to a protective layer of lime and are therefore safe?
In principle, it is true that a top layer of poorly soluble lead salts and lime forms in lead pipes over time, but the limit value of the Drinking Water Ordinance, which has been in force since December 1st, 2013, is so low that it will probably not be able to be complied with despite the top layer.
Are there any other sources of lead in drinking water besides lead pipes?
Occasionally, other pipe materials, such as brass fittings or galvanized iron pipes, can also give off small amounts of lead. Therefore, it is better not to use water that has "stood" in a pipe for more than four hours to prepare food or drinks (Link: www.umweltbundesamt.de).
Are filters useful against lead?
Yes and no: There are "filters" in the broadest sense that can theoretically take lead out of the water for a limited time, but when they are full, there is a "breakthrough": then they may even suddenly give the stored lead in higher concentration than it was before! (see also
Conclusion: Filters on the tap do not meet the requirements of TrinkwV2001 for a trouble-free supply of drinking water over the long term. If defects are known, the cause must be eliminated. Therefore only a permanent replacement of the water-carrying pipes helps.
Does boiling drinking water help against lead concentrations that are too high?
No, boiling helps against bacteria and kills them. However, it does not help against increased concentrations of metals such as lead.
Can the lead pollution of drinking water be reduced by partially replacing the lead lines, e.g. with copper lines?
No, the new limit value cannot be adhered to with certainty if the drinking water has previously flowed through lead pipes. In addition, there may even be an increased release of lead if precious metals such as copper are used in conjunction with lead pipes. To find out which is the best individual solution for a renovation, please contact your installer
Is it enough to first replace the lead lines to the kitchen and later the ones that lead to the bathroom? After all, the water is not drunk from the shower.
It is true that in this way the intake of lead can be reduced, but nevertheless the water in the bathroom as well as in the kitchen must be of drinking water quality. According to the Drinking Water Ordinance, “drinking water” is all water that is intended for drinking, cooking, preparing food and beverages, but also expressly for personal hygiene and cleaning.
Which materials are suitable to replace the lead lines?
The materials used in the house installation have a major influence on the water quality. When selecting the materials, the composition of the drinking water available on site must also be taken into account. Planners or qualified installation companies advise on the selection of the best and most cost-effective material for the application. This ensures that drinking water installations and especially the devices, fittings and materials used comply with the technical regulations and the requirements of the Drinking Water Ordinance. To find out which is the best individual solution for a renovation, please contact your installer
Who is allowed to renovate the drinking water pipes?
The Ordinance on general conditions for the supply of water (AVBWasserV) stipulates that only approved plumbers and heating contractors may work on house installations - not the users themselves! Specialist companies are registered with the water supply companies as contract installation companies (VIU). You can also contact the Association of Sanitary, Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing Technology (FVSHK).
Can the landlord pass on the costs of the renovation to the tenant?
If lead lines are exchanged as a result of the limit value being exceeded, the rental property is defective and the house owner must bear the costs himself. Further information can be found e.g. on the website of the German Tenants' Association. (Link www.mieterbund.de)
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