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Lead in water

Guidance and advice on the presence of lead in drinking water

In Scotland, lead does not occur naturally in significant concentrations in our water supplies.

The problem arises when drinking water comes into contact with lead supply pipes, lead tanks, lead solder joints on copper pipes, or inferior quality brass fittings and taps.

High lead levels in the drinking water supply can occur if water is stationary in the pipework for longer periods such as overnight, weekends and holiday periods.

If you think you may have lead pipes, we encourage you to take action to find out whether lead is present and to take steps to replace them.

In the short-term there are things you can do to protect your health:

  1. Check your pipes.

  2. Contact a licensed plumber to advise on replacing any lead pipework in your property.

  3. Contact Scottish Water for advice on the water main and service pipe to your home

  4. Only use water from the kitchen cold tap for drinking and cooking as hot water dissolves more lead than cold.

  5. Never cook or mix instant formulas using water from the hot tap.

  6. Run the tap for a few minutes before using the water until you feel the temperature drop before cooking, drinking or brushing your teeth, especially if the water has been standing for some time in the pipes, such as overnight.

  7. Boiling will not remove lead from water.

You can find out more on the health effects of exposure to lead on the NHS Inform website.

Page last updated:
20 Oct 2020

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