Lead solder used on water pipes



Umm no. The problem of lead in food stuffs was principally from the consumption of sapa as a flavouring agent in Roman cooking. Sapa was created by boiling a grape must in a saucepan for hours on end to concentrate it.
The Romans discovered that the end product could be made even sweeter by boiling the must in a lead saucepan and this became a standard way of preparing sapa. Unfortunately the sweet flavour was due to the formation of lead acetate (lead sugar) which is much more soluble than lead oxides. As with most lead compounds it is a potent toxin.
I suspect for the man in the street unable to afford expensive preserves and sweeteners it presented little hazard, but emperors presumably consumed "quite a bit" of food flavoured with sapa.
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wrote:

I'd like to know that too.
Mary
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On Tue, 03 Jun 2008 10:28:16 +0100, Frank Erskine

There have certainly been a number of recorded cases from the early 1900's, but all in areas where there was soft water plus extensive lead piping and stagnation water which had been in pipes overnight was used to make infant feed. I think some cases came from Liverpool. Most cases though came from Publicans and their families where the first draw of beer (or worse - cider) through the then lead pipes was drunk by the family (rather than being thrown away).
With copper pipes/lead solder the exposure is highest immediately after installation and drops over the next 5 years to a stable level.
Australia has few lead pipe installations installation so studies there tend to be of copper/lead solder. Two are "Metals in Drinking Water from New Housing Estates in the Sydney Area Rajaratnam, Winder and An"
"Metals in drinking water were measured in 95 new houses less than 18 months old in the Sydney metropolitan area. Three samples (first-flush, post-first-flush, and fully flushed water) were collected from each house, and “control” samples from the five Sydney Water points that supplied the houses, a total of 326 samples. They were analyzed for Pb, Cu, Mn, Zn, Cd, and Al. At the supply points, the levels of all metals were at or below Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG). In the houses, metal levels varied. Of the first-flush samples, Pb was above ADWG in 60% and above US EPA Guidelines in 81%, Cu was above ADWG in 12%, and Cd was above ADWG in 4%. Of the post-first-flush samples, Pb was above ADWG in 24%, Cu was above ADWG in 18%, Cd was above ADWG in 1%, and Zn was above ADWG in 1%. The other metal contaminants (Mn and Al) were within ADWG. In fully flushed water, the levels of all metals were well below ADWG."
and
"Effect of plumbing systems on lead content of drinking water and contribution to lead body burden." Gulson BL, Law AJ, Korsch MJ, Mizon KJ
"Stable lead isotopes and lead contents in drinking water from a number of Australian cities have been measured to determine the contribution of drinking water to body burden. Lead contents are generally < 2 micrograms/l and thus contribute an insignificant amount to the lead budget in humans in Australia. First-flush and running water samples taken at intervals of up to 10 min show that equilibrium is reached within 1 min or approximately 10 l by volume. There is, however, large variability in both lead content and isotopic composition within the first minute which brings into question the reliability of the recommended sampling time of 30 s. Extremely large isotopic differences between individual dwellings within the one city and between dwellings and the storage tanks for the water supply are attributed to differences in lead residing in the plumbing within the dwellings, usually from lead solder in brass fittings. Isotopic analysis of solder and water from two dwellings confirm this relationship."
Leaving the cold tap running for 1 minute after it hasn't been used for some time (eg overnight) seems to be effective in eliminating any problem but lead in drinking water remains a relatively small source for lead in humans.
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wrote:

What are the significant sources now we have unleaded petrol?
AJH
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I recall reading that the highest risk was from old lead-based paint.
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AJH wrote:

I have to ask whether using grey water collected from lead flashed roofs could contribute significant lead to, say, the vegetable plot?
In cattle (apparently - for I certainly didn't know this):
"Feed contamination is also a potential problem, indeed contaminated rice bran from Burma was the primary source of the last major outbreak of lead poisoning in the UK in 1989."
<http://www.thecattlesite.com/diseaseinfo/217/lead-poisoning
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Rod

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Rod wrote:

Almost certainly. Aren't brassicas hevay metal concentrators?

And mercury in tuna. Of course I eat tuna three times a day - don't you?
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The Natural Philosopher wrote:

I keep brassica consumption down because they are goitrogens. :-)
And it seems unlikely that we will be importing Burmese rice bran for a while.
Without the mercury, how would you know when it is cooked?
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Rod

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And in Salmon. I make gravad lax quite often...
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Andrew Gabriel
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wrote:

<snip>
Also some of what you have quoted refers to storage tanks. Most drinking water in uk housing comes direct off the main via the kitchen tap or should. This is often (but not always) near the incoming main. In the vast majority of cases therefore, the studies above are irrelevant. Running the kitchen tap for 10s in the morning and again after work, will ensure there is no lead in the water you drink.
Yes, I wouldn't make tea by filling the kettle from the hot tap in an old property (but only partly because of the lead possibilities!). For the OP though, as long as they only drink from the kitchen tap and flush as I suggest, they won't get any lead at all and can worry about one of the 10,000 other things that are way more hazardous in life!
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On Tue, 03 Jun 2008 00:30:50 +0100, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

Thanks for all the comments folks. One of the neighbours was ill and had the water tested by the local water board. They found high levels of lead and all the houses in the (small) estate were tested.
Not sure of these figures but apparently the WHO limit for lead is 25 micro grammes of lead per litre. Reducing to 10ug soon. The house readings are now 13ug and after running the tap for 5 mins it drops to 0.6ug (so it looks like something in the house pipes causing the problem) One en-suite tap had a reading of 152ug (not drinking that!!)
The house has an enforcement order on it re the lead and the insurers are willing to pay for the work to fix the problem. It's just we don't know if it's worth all the hassle and we don't know what legal force there is with an enforcement order. e.g. could you just stall indefinitely until the lead level drops to a safe level (assuning it ever will) or is there some time limit to them.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

Sorry if this sounds rude, but:
For gawd's sake just get it done!
IMHO there are simply too many imponderables about the effects of the lead on your health. If the level is still high after five years, it isn't going to disappear in a hurry. And you certainly don't want to have to tell any prospective buyer that you know all about the problem but haven't done anything about it.
If you did not have insurance cover I might be a bit more circumspect, but with that covered, just go for it. Opportunity for a bit of DIY as you repair the mess. :-)
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Rod

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