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Beyond Health Benefits: The economic advantage of replacing Lead water pipes

replacing lead pipes

Lead exposure, long known for its detrimental health effects, is now recognized as an even greater threat than previously understood. A study in The Lancet links lead exposure not only to high blood pressure but also to cardiovascular diseases. These contributed to the deaths of 5.5 million adults globally in 2019, a figure six times higher than earlier estimates. Most alarmingly, 90% of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, highlighting the urgent need for replacing lead pipes.

Replacing lead pipes a priority

Lead pipes is a major contributor to lead in drinking water, particularly in older homes and cities. Hence, they have become a focal point for change. While the U.S. has made strides in addressing lead in gas and paint, recent incidents, like lead-heavy applesauce packets, reveal persisting issues. The Environmental Protection Agency proposes to eliminate almost all lead pipes within a decade. Though this is a costly endeavour, it is justified by the anticipated economic benefits. The primary motivation for replacing lead pipes is the improvement in public health, with estimates suggesting at least $9.8 billion in annual economic gains. However, one often overlooked benefit is the enhancement of water system efficiency. Tokyo’s success in reducing water leakage rates from over 20% to an astonishing 3% serves as a model for the world.

Leaky pipes not only waste water but also incur significant costs. For example, Atlanta experienced nearly a third of its water failing to reach users in 2021. This resulted in almost $3 million in expenses. Moreover, leaks introduce contaminants into drinking water, posing additional health risks. Tokyo achieved minimized water leaks with a multi-faceted approach. This approach included prompt surface leak repairs, investment in leak detection tools, and innovative methods such as injecting helium gas to locate leaks. Crucially, replacing lead pipes played a pivotal role. Lead pipes, vulnerable to corrosion and external impacts, were phased out starting in 1980. This greatly contributed to leak reduction and improved earthquake resistance.

It is still a challenge

While some developed countries have moved away from using lead pipes in new constructions, the aggressive removal of old lead pipes remains a challenge. Partial replacements, as seen in Taiwan, can even exacerbate lead release. The longevity of lead pipes, coupled with challenges in obtaining permissions for removal, continues to be a concern in places like the U.S.

Though the comprehensive replacement of all lead pipes is a prolonged and expensive endeavor requiring decades, Tokyo’s experience underscores the long-term benefits. Beyond safeguarding public health, replacing lead pipes contributes to reduced water leakage expenses. This offers a compelling case for governments worldwide to prioritize this critical infrastructure upgrade. Doulton water filters help in filtering out lead and other contaminants, making the water safe and healthy. Further, Doulton products are eco-friendly as well. The ceramic candles can be added to compost once their life is over.

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If your water source is borewell/tanker etc with TDS above 500 ppm, we do not recommend Doulton Water Filters.

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  • *If your water source is borewell/tanker etc with TDS above 500 ppm, we do not recommend Doulton Water Filters.

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