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French tap water still ‘has too much lead’, says study

There are still too-high levels of lead in French tap water, and reducing it should continue to be an urgent public health priority, according to a new report today.

Levels of lead in tap water were found to be too high still, according to a new study by the French Food Safety Agency (L'Agence de sécurité de l'alimentation (Anses)).

The risk was found to be especially high in older buildings, and in areas with older distribution systems, the Agency said, as reported by consumer site Radins today.

It said it could not be sure how many houses were affected, but that a significant number - especially older properties - were likely to have tap water with a too-high concentration of the metal.

It advised that anyone with older water pipes should replace them as soon as possible, and in the meantime treat their water before drinking it. It recommends using treatments including phosphoric acid or orthophosphates, to counteract the lead.

If possible, orthophosphates should be added before the water actually arrives in the tap, because it can also form a protective layer inside water pipes, which prevent the lead from seeping from the pipes into the water, according to Anses.

The Agency sought to warn people that this protective effect is variable, however, and is not enough on its own to provide lasting protection against excess lead.

It recommended other measures - such as neutralisation, remineralisation or decarbonisation - as well as suggesting that homeowners and workplaces should replace any old pipes as quickly as possible.

These measures should be “accompanied by studies to better determine the impact on the microbiological quality of the water and the environment”, even though “no negative effect has been highlighted by any of the water distributors we spoke to”.

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