BPEC, ‘an industry-leading provider of qualifications, assessments and learning materials’, appear to condone the use of lead solder in their training materials.
In a their publication ‘Essential Plumbing Skills Development for Copper Pipe Installation’ (page 7), which can be seen by clicking the link or the excerpt below, BPEC state that “leaded solder is beneficial to achieve early success in soldering until you get used to controlling heat and flame”.
They do mention that it shouldn’t be used for drinking-water supplies, but this is still insufficient for the following reasons:
First of all, the use of lead should never be condoned – especially not in a training environment. This sets a terrible example to students, as they will never respect the danger of using lead in plumbing systems if it is seen as accepted practice in a college setting. The use of lead-based solder is illegal and highly dangerous, as pointed out by almost every public health body in the world, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Second, BPEC appear to tout the benefits of using lead-based solder, implying that it is easier to use, which certainly gives off the wrong impression.
It begs the questions: which colleges are still using lead solder in the UK and is this accepted? We look forward to responses.
This case shows the vital need for proper training in plumbing. And it is testament to the fact that the dangers of lead are often massively understated in training contexts in the UK and worldwide.
We are registered with the WHO lead prevention week. But there needs to be more action to promote a lead-free future.