Industry insights

Is Toxic Lead Piping Affecting The Water And Pupils In Your School?

2 min read

By Matt Stimpson |  Published

The UK has some of the highest standards in the world for the mains water supply going into schools up and down the country, with strict tests and checks carried out to ensure it stays that way. But while the water quality is outstanding, the pipework in your school may be inadequate, negatively affecting your water supply – and your pupils.

UK Water quality standards

With 25 water suppliers covering the UK, each delivers and maintains the essential water – and sewerage – systems we use every day, meeting tough UK and EU standards along the way. As well as ensuring every property receives the right supply, service, and water pressure, they’re required to carry out strict, quality control sample testing to ensure our water is 100% safe to drink.

This includes testing chemical levels of certain substances like nitrate and pesticides, as well as microbiological testing for any harmful micro-organisms that might appear. And according to Water UK, water quality compliance figures for each UK region show results upwards of 99.88%. But what if your water supply is being affected by something else?

Are there lead pipes in schools?

It was once standard for any new properties, including schools, to use lead pipework with lead solder to supply drinking water. This, naturally, resulted in the lead contaminating the drinking water as it travelled through the pipes. Fortunately, the use of lead pipework has been banned since the early 1970s with lead solder being banned in 1987.

With strict regulations now in place, all pipework in any new building is required to be new copper or plastic PVC/CPVC pipes, all of which are approved for use with drinking water. But while water suppliers have replaced miles of lead pipes in older homes and properties, many of them, including schools, still contain this toxic pipework and solder. And a recent Guardian article uncovers how some schools have discovered them by chance.

A damaging effect - how lead toxicity can affect a child

Testing materials were sent to 20,000 schools taking part in the Great British Water Project, allowing pupils to test rainwater, pond water, and drinking water. But results from 14 of them reported high levels of lead in their drinking water with up to 50 micrograms per litre. A dangerously high level and as much as five times higher than what’s considered safe.

This illustrates the damage lead, or any other toxins, can do if water or pipework is left unchecked. Without replacement, even the lowest levels of lead in water are toxic and have the potential to affect a child’s IQ and even damage their nervous system. It’s now the responsibility of any affected schools to remove toxic pipework under enforcement by their water supplier.

Enjoy pure water in your school with Thirsty Work

While many schools still operate with lead piping and solder, Thirsty Work is proud to be able to supply schools and education providers with mains fed water coolers that contain a pura10,000L filter. Alongside other thorough filtration, this removes any traces of toxic lead in the water to a size of 0.0009 mm, before it reaches your glass. But it also makes sure your water retains the natural minerals and nutrients our bodies need.

For more information on toxic lead filtration on any of our mains fed water coolers, to get a free quote, or start your free 10-day trial for your school, contact our customer service team on 01392 877 172 or email us at today.