A level of lead higher than European standards has been found in 5.2% of tap water samples in Wallonia. On Tuesday, La Dernière Heure and La Libre are reporting the issue. The daily publications base their articles upon a report by DGO3, the public utility service Wallonia-Environment.
Water lead compliance rates have reduced during recent years, going from 99% in 2010-2012 to 94.8% in 2014-2016. The findings arise from the report on “the quality of water intended for human consumption” to be studied “shortly” by the Walloon government.
The daily publications are reporting that some 16,252 tap water checks and 3,248 checks on meters and kitchens were conducted by the DGO3 between 2014 and 2016. Lead was detected during 39% of these checks. In 7.8% of checks, results concluded that the standard of 10 micrograms per litre was exceeded. In 1.2% of cases, the rate was five times higher than the permitted norm.
The presence of lead in drinking water has two main causes: lead piping which is still used to supply the majority of old houses, and the connections which link the channelling on roads to the water meters in houses or blocks of flats.
Unlike iron or copper, lead is considered toxic. The DG03 says that its accumulation within the human body through the digestive or respiratory system causes lead poisoning, which can cause anaemia, digestive disorders, encephalopathy, paralysis and intellectual disability.