Exclusive: UK water companies have failed to replace three million toxic lead pipes

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Period30 Jun 2023

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleExclusive: UK water companies have failed to replace three million toxic lead pipes
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletThe New Statesman
    Media typePrint
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Description“There’s no safe amount of lead exposure,” said Dr Tristan Sturm, senior lecturer in geography at Queen’s University Belfast. “That’s often a misconception among public health that if you just lower something enough, it’ll be safe. That’s not true.”

    “In the UK we know that there’s roughly 25 per cent of UK communication pipes that are lead,” said Sturm. “And 34 per cent of homes have some lead pipe pipes in their network.”

    “They’re the ones who would have been [historically] setting down policies about what kind of pipes could be laid,” he explained. One solution from the Republic of Ireland is a scheme to provide grants of up to €5,000 to property owners to replace the lead in their homes. Sturm is aware of only two similar schemes in the UK, in the Argyll and Bute area of western Scotland and in Sussex.

    Sturm, meanwhile, is resolute: “We’ve been having this conversation in the United States for 12 years now and we haven’t started having it in the UK at all.”
    Producer/AuthorSamir Jeraj
    PersonsTristan Sturm