Massive costs loom as WHO tightens lead in water guideline

A guideline on the maximum safe concentration of lead in drinking water was slashed from 50µg/l to 10µg/l by the World Health Organisation in September. The recommendation could cost Britain up to £9 billion. Further changes in values for other parameters are expected shortly.

The tightening of the value for lead follows a meeting of WHO Europe experts in Geneva to finalise revisions to the WHO's last drinking water guidelines, issued in 1984. Pressure from the water industry and the European Commission appears to have persuaded the WHO to depart from tradition and release the new guideline values ahead of publication of the full text, which is expected in 1993.

The lower value for lead follows concerns over it

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