THE decline and fall of the Roman Empire has been thought by some to have been caused by lead.
That’s right! You see, Romans loved their lead which was a by-product of silver production.
They made water pipes out of it as well as cooking utensils.
There have, however, been studies of skeletons from these ancient times as bones and teeth are prime indicators of lead poisoning. Results have been inconclusive.
We no longer get poisoning from paints and petrol fumes as they are now lead free .
But there is a degree of concern about lead in our drinking water.
Lead based solder was banned nationwide from use in domestic water supply fittings by the Safe Drinking Water Act (1986).
If you live in a house built before this you could very well have lead soldered copper pipes.
Most commonly the lead is found in ‘Yorkshire’ fittings which release the inbuilt lead solder when heated.
Just scratch the grey oxide around a joint and if it comes up soft and shiny , it’s lead. It can leach into the pipes.
If you have these types of plumbing fittings in your home, you can protect yourself to a degree by flushing the kitchen tap for about a minute before filling the electric jug.
Never drink the first flow of water from a rarely used tap. Give it a good flush first.
By Geoff WALKER