Thursday 24 September 2020

Utrecht and Rotterdam to test for lead water pipes

Photo: Odi Busman

Utrecht and Rotterdam councils have told the NOS broadcaster that they plan to test their buildings for lead pipes.

Lead found in significant levels in drinking water is poisonous, and has particularly harmful effects on young children, according to the World Health Organization.

Earlier this week, Amsterdam city council confirmed that four daycare centres and nine other locations including the Theo Thijssenschool have too high a percentage of lead in their drinking water – despite a ban on lead water pipes since the 1960s.

Now Utrecht has said it will check all primary schools and daycare centres built before 1960 and will take action where necessary, reports the NOS.

Rotterdam is set to make an inventory of all buildings under city management including those used by children in the coming months. In November last year the Rotterdam-Rijnmond health board informed all schools and nurseries about the risks of lead in drinking water and measures that can reduce these.

Amsterdam is testing all council buildings, starting on a plan of replacing pipes, and has advised all schools in pre-1960 buildings to use only bottled water.

It is estimated that up to 200,000 old houses across the Netherlands have never had old lead pipes changed, and it has not been obligatory for owners to do this despite the health risks. Now, though, the Dutch health council has urged for all pipes to be removed and advised pregnant women and young children to only drink bottled water. Long term ingestion of lead is thought to risk a drop in IQ of between 2 and 5 points for young children.

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