Heavy metals in drinking water - a health hazard
Heavy metals such as lead, nickel or copper are components of our drinking water. In small quantities, they have no effect on health. In many cases, however, the applicable limit values are exceeded in Central Europe. In old buildings, old water pipes can cause toxic substances to be added to the water in the house. Lead in drinking water, in particular, can lead to worrying health problems. This is mainly the case with infants and small children, but also with adults. In order to protect oneself from heavy metals and other undesirable substances, there are certain points to pay attention to.
Which heavy metals are found in drinking water?
Lead, iron, nickel and zinc are often found in European water pipes. In old buildings, copper is also a frequent by-product of drinking water. However, health risks only occur in excessive doses. Iron, in particular, is even an important component of trace elements in small quantities. However, if such substances are ingested in large quantities and every day, this can have devastating after-effects. The human body can only break them down and process them in certain doses. If limits are exceeded, lead, nickel or copper remain in the body and accumulate in organs, bones or teeth.
What resulting health damage can occur?
These accumulations result in serious health risks. Lead in drinking water, which is absorbed by the body in large quantities, can have a toxic effect on organs. The liver and kidneys are particularly affected. Common symptoms of heavy metal poisoning are nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and even cardiac arrhythmia. Some of these toxic substances have been proven to be carcinogenic and in many cases cause liver damage in young children.
Where do harmful substances in drinking water come from?
In principle, drinking water in Switzerland is highly regulated and there are limit values, compliance with which is strictly monitored. Nevertheless, these values are set high in Europe and violations have already been found in several cases. Another point that should not be ignored is that the water quality is only checked up to the house connection. In many cases, old water pipes are laid in old buildings, which are mainly made of copper. Lead can also accumulate in the drinking water, often in the form of deposits.
How can you protect yourself from this?
The first step in case of suspicion of toxic substances such as lead in drinking water is always to carry out a water test. This gives an indication of the water quality and whether it may be a cause for concern. In old buildings, it may also be advisable to replace the old water pipes with new ones. Another very advisable solution is to use a water filter. This is clamped between the water tap and the house connection and filters unwanted substances out of the drinking water.
Lead in drinking water and other toxic substances such as copper, nickel or iron are a daily health hazard. Especially in old buildings and with old water pipes, there is often undesirable contamination by heavy metals. If there is a suspicion of poor water quality, it is urgent to take immediate action and, in the first instance, to carry out a water test. This provides information about the quality and then specific measures can be taken, such as the replacement of old water pipes or the use of a water filter.