15 Nov 2022

Lead levels allowed in drinking water taps to be cut significantly from 2025

2:31 pm on 15 November 2022
Tap water

The allowable level of lead in drinking water taps will be cut from 4.5 percent to 0.25 percent from 2025. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The amount of lead that taps are allowed to be made of is being cut back to protect people's health.

New Zealand is cutting back the toxin from up to 4.5 percent of the weight of tapware, to just 0.25 percent.

This is in line with levels in Australia and the US for the first time.

The World Health Organisation says no amount of exposure to lead is safe, especially for children.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said the 100 submissions it received overwhelmingly supported making the change to taps in contact with drinking water.

Over 90 percent of submissions backed "the potential health benefits of the proposed change", it said.

The cut will apply from 2025 to allow time to raise awareness and for manufacturers to comply.

Another rule change aims to make multistorey building floors safer.

It makes it harder to design for hollowcore floors, a type of concrete flooring that is common in New Zealand even though it is proven to perform poorly in earthquakes.

More than 90 percent of submitters backed this.

"None of the submitters identified any substantial impacts due to this change" because most designers had dropped them already since the 2016 Kaikōura quake, its report said.

This was not a ban on hollowcore, MBIE said.

"This would allow their use in rigid low-rise buildings and basements on a case-by-case basis subject to other means of design verification."

There is no impact on existing buildings that have these floors.

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