October 9, 2019

Brussels police ‘poisoned for years’ by lead in water at work

Credits: Belga

Lead in the water risk from plumbing and taps in buildings

Following a lead contamination incident in a Belgian Police building, the Brussels Times reported that the Higher Consultation Committee were brought together to investigate the risk to police officers and workers.

It was first believed that the reported lead in the water situation did not present a major health problem but at least six measures were prescribed for implementation ‘ASAP’.

Where water was found to be unfit for human consumption in the Police station, canteens were ordered to be set-up and water test results displayed in the entrance of the affected buildings. Drinking water fountains revealing bacterial contamination were also closed.

A national action plan was launched in Belgium as a consequence of the contamination incident and the help of an expert was enlisted to ensure that the water analysis method was the most appropriate – this is not always the case in the UK owing to water authorities using out-dated flushing techniques which are now outlawed by the EU drinking water directive.

Legal Action

A significant feature of the Belgium poisoning case was the decision by seven federal police officers to sue their superior, general police commissioner Marc De Mesmaeker (full story here). research has reported the high risk of lead poisoning in UK buildings from Legacy plumbing made from copper pipes with lead solder joints – these can be more toxic and dangerous than lead pipes alone. The building distribution Legacy plumbing reported in the Brussels Police station is located inside the occupied building.

The UK population is also exposed to toxic Legacy distribution systems in buildings made from copper and this is an additional risk to the often cited Legacy pipework made from Lead, located in the water authority network.

It is our view at leadinthewater that children in homes and schools, women of childbearing capacity working or studying in colleges and universities, along with workers in public sector buildings are not being adequately warned by environmental, safety and water authorities about the risks of lead poisoning from toxic building distribution systems (see full ‘Legacy Plumbing’ paper here)

International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2019

This paper is the third in a series written for World Health Organisation ‘International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2019’ – is registered for the event and we want readers to browse our site for other breaking news stories on the hazards of lead in the environment.