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Millions of homes break lead rule

22% of homes have old piping that may break regulations on lead in tap water about to come in; the government is being asked to rethink

AROUND eight million homes do not meet new standards on lead piping due to come in at Christmas, consumer body CLCV has revealed.

An official report shows that 22% of French homes - notably those built before the 1950s – probably still have lead water pipes that would need replacing to meet the standards.

Owners of detached homes are not obliged to change their pipes under the law, however pipes in shared ownership buildings, like blocks of flats, should have been replaced if necessary by December 25.

The law reduces the amount of lead permitted in water from 25 micrograms per litre to 10.

CLCV says that lead in water rarely causes lead poisoning, however it can contribute to a build-up in the body, especially in young children.

However, for practical reasons it is urging the government to put off application of the law for three years, which it says the European rules allow for under certain conditions.

This would give more time to find ways for the state to help, for example with grants towards the work, which in a block of flats is estimated would cost on average €2,250 per flat.

With many flat owners recently having had large bills for making old lifts meet new norms, many people simply could not afford to pay in full themselves, says CLCV. The group has also called for new standards for water testing as the lead content can vary depending on the time of day it is done.

In the meantime, official advice for people with older pipes is to avoid drinking the first morning flow of water. Preferably, allow the water to run for a minute or more before using it; this will reduce any concentration of lead. Also avoid using water from the hot tap for cooking food.

Photo: Espensorvik/

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