Your Taps Could be Making you Ill

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Leading bathroom supplier LivingHouse Interiors, highlights the possible dangers of high lead content in poorly made kitchen and bathroom taps available in the UK

The lead content in taps is extremely difficult to ascertain, and there are no regulations controlling these levels in the UK and Europe.

LivingHouse Interiors have made the decision to stock taps that have the lowest possible lead content, although there are similarly attractive taps available at much lower prices.

In the US since April 2001, all brass produced with a lead content of more than 1.5% must include a consumer warning of the lead content. This is not a requirement in the UK and Europe, although manufacturers of brass products for use in our homes do voluntarily try to keep the lead content below 2%. Unfortunately this is not the case with some cheaper imports where the lead content can be as high as 11%.

Brass with a higher lead content is cheaper and softer than brass with a lower lead content. This makes it easier to work with, therefore the tools and equipment for machining can also be cheaper. This softer, cheaper equipment has much lower demand for cooling and lubricants, and also speeds up the machining process.

Apart from producing taps that are softer and therefore more prone to damage, there can be severe health implications.

Although the lead content of taps is not high enough to have any sudden and dramatic effects on our health, over a prolonged period the effects can be quite extreme. The hazards of lead have been known to us for many years, but it is only in the last 50 years that we have gained awareness that even small amounts can be harmful, and at the time of writing there is no known amount of lead that is too small to be harmful. Studies suggest that about 15% of ingested lead is absorbed by adults, but this much higher in pregnant women and children - up to 50%.

Lead is stored in the blood, soft tissue and bones. Mental illness, hearing loss, tooth decay, anti-social behaviour and learning difficulties have all been associated with long-term exposure to low levels of lead. Tooth decay in childhood can be linked to lead exposure experienced by the mother during pregnancy. Although the health effects of lead exposure can be the same for adults and children, the symptoms appear to be more severe for children.

EU regulations require any chemical waste derived from the manufacture of taps to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly fashion, which may not be the case in other countries where the waste disposal may be introducing higher levels of lead into the environment.

So although it can be difficult to know the lead content of your taps, choosing a better quality, European manufactured tap certainly appears to be the best option.

Visit http://www.livinghouse.co.uk to see a range of taps and other bathroom products that will look good in your bathroom, and provide peace of mind. Call Living House on 01722 415000 for any further advice or information.

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Giles Lever
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