Why is lead so harmful?
- Lead is, at the very least, harmful to your health and serious exposure can even be carcinogenic. In addition, lead disrupts the development of red blood cells, which serve (among other functions) to distribute oxygen to our organs. The brain, kidneys and nervous system in particular are seriously damaged by lead. There is a risk that the brain may develop less than it would have in the absence of lead poisoning. This effect is most quickly seen in children. For more information see: kidshealth.org
Why is nickel so harmful?
- Many more people are allergic to nickel than is generally known. Wearing nickel in jewellery can be enough to cause a serious allergy. In addition, showering with a shower mixing faucet the gives off traces of nickel can cause irritations that lead to a nickel allergy. The usual symptoms are rashes and other skin conditions. A nickel allergy, which can continue for the rest of your life, has many disadvantages. For more information see: nickel allergy
Why is lead used in faucets?
- Lead is used because it makes the brass alloy easier to work, for instance to polish. In addition lead is cheaper than the other components in the brass, so using it lowers the unit cost. Thirdly, lead has a lower melting point which reduces energy costs during the casting process. Supplier producing faucets without toxic substances, would certainly state this on the packaging. Unfortunately, the converse is not the case.
Why is nickel used in faucets?
- The nickel layer on a faucet is about ten times as thick as the chrome layer. It provides a very smooth surface for the chrome to attach to, and makes the chrome attach more firmly. The chrome layer is much thinner, is porous and wears away, to that traces of the nickel find their way into the drinking water.
How does this affect drinking tea, coffee and cold drinks, and using the water to cook potatoes or vegetables?
- Contaminated water that has been boiled is more harmful to drink than cold drinking water. Evaporation increases the concentrations of lead and nickel. Note that lead is always stored in the body, it’s not broken down. What goes in never comes out. Lead is a cumulative poison.
In the Dutch TV programme “RADAR” the KIWA (Institute for Plumbing Certification) said that we should let the faucet run for 3 seconds to flush the harmful substances out. Is that correct?
- This is partially correct, but you would have to leave the faucet running for thirty seconds to a minute. If this advice was applied by everyone in the Netherlands, daily water consumption would increase enormously. At present we use an average of 130 litres/person per day. If the average faucet delivers 8 litres per minute and we use the faucet 30 times per day, this would add 240 litres per day per person. That would be 1.4 billion litres of drinking water per year wasted. Apart from the financial costs that this extra usage would involve, it’s clear that this would put a heavy burden on our environment. Moreover, all this flushing takes the lead and nickel into the environment. The problem is simply being shifted. The environment is our children’s future. Let’s not rubbish it!
Why will it be even more harmful in the future?
- Certain countries, such as France and Italy, are considering increasing the amount of lead that can be used in a faucet to 3.5% (the limit is now 3%). This will be even worse for our health and the environment, especially considering the fact that most of the bathroom fittings we use come from these countries. The key question is: why did governments issue instructions 20 years ago that all lead pipes should be removed from houses, but failed to require lead to be removed from the faucets?
Should I replace all my faucets?
- “I’ve been drinking from these faucets for many years, and now you say I should replace them?” This is a remark that we often hear. The first thing we ask is whether the person is a grandfather or grandmother, or has children in the house. Often that is enough to answer the question: children and pregnant women suffer most from lead and nickel in drinking water. In the end one does this for one’s own health and because we have a responsibility for our families and the environment.
How can I see whether a faucet is safe or not?
- By the dark coloured ring at the foot of Zeromix® faucets. This ring is patented and provides a guarantee that the faucet is lead-free and nickel-free*. The ring is also clearly visible for children. The Zeromix® faucet is the only lead-free and nickel-free* faucet.
Why is the media only talking about lead in drinking water now?
- Government bodies have sought to reduce the lead component of products for many years, for example in paint and petrol. There are two reasons why little has been done about faucets.
- In the first place, it was decided in the past to allow a certain percentage of lead because of the requirements of the production process. Since no alternatives for lead were available up to now, this percentage has never been changed.
- In the second place, current testing methods do not highlight the problem. Testing has only covered the percentage of lead in the faucet itself. (And note, we are speaking here only of faucets that have been tested by a recognised certification authority.
- Naturally there are also many faucets on the market that have no certificate. You don’t know what percentage of lead these may contain.) Since 1998, a Directive of the EU has advised that the water coming out of the faucet should also be tested for nickel and lead levels. This guideline has even been included in our Water Reticulation Regulations. Unfortunately, neither government bodies nor the certification bodies have implemented this testing, and it has not been incorporated in the current methods of testing and certification. Thus you only have a guarantee that the faucet is technically speaking in order: you are not told anything about toxic constituents.
- Professor Grandjean of Harvard University in the USA has devoted a good deal of attention to the issue. This inspired Zeromix®, leading to work on a viable solution. The products resulting from this work have been on the market since early this year.
I have faucets from a good brand, why are they not lead-free?
- We have to be cautious here. We give you a guarantee that our Zeromix® faucets are lead-free and nickel-free*. In view of the patents on Zeromix® faucets, there are no other brands at present that offer lead-free and nickel-free* faucets. There are advertisements about something similar, but the faucets in question still contain lead.
Will I notice a difference between water from a Zeromix faucet and from my current faucet?
- What makes lead poisoning especially dangerous is that you do not notice it until it’s too late. Because you accumulate lead in your body and it doesn’t break down, you notice the first symptoms after around 10 years. There are no other differences with using Zeromix® faucets. They are developed and produced with great care. The only people who may immediately notice a difference are those who are allergic to nickel: the lower exposure may mean they notice a reduction in skin irritations.
There’s nothing wrong with our drinking water, why make a fuss about a bit of lead?
- We have the best drinking water in the world, and our government spends billions to ensure that it stays that way. We use 130 litres per day, part of which we drink in our tea, coffee, cold drinks or simply as water. All the tiny quantities of lead add up over the years, and since health complaints only emerge at a much later stage, it’s often too late then.
Can you taste lead in your drinking water?
- No, you can’t taste lead.
Isn’t lead just one of many contaminants in drinking water that are not so good for you?
- There are indeed other substances that are harmful, but lead and nickel can be life-threatening and are present in sufficiently high concentrations for them to matter. The other contaminants are as a rule only present as trace elements that had no significant effects.
Is bottled mineral water lead-free?
- This has not been tested yet, but it will be in the near future.
In the old days you had lead water pipes. Wasn’t that much worse than what we have now?
- Yes, that was very bad and many governments said so at the time. But if that is dangerous, shouldn’t lead (and nickel) also be banned from faucets?
Don’t other countries have much worse drinking water than here in the Netherlands?
- Yes, other countries do indeed have a lower quality of drinking water and the people there generally drink bottled water. In Germany, for example, one only uses water for making up lemonade, for hot drinks and for cooking. Boiling raises the concentrations of lead and nickel because some of the water evaporates while lead and nickel do not.
If lead is so bad, why are lead-free faucets only now being made?
- See: why is the media only talking about lead in drinking water now?
Can I remove lead by heating the water?
- Water that has boiled will have a higher concentration of lead and nickel, since water then evaporates but lead and nickel only evaporate at very high temperatures.
Can I remove lead by installing a filter?
- Prof. Grandjean has tested this, and found that the lead and nickel remains in the drinking water. Other substances such as calcium and chlorine are filtered from the water.
Does the release of traces of lead decline once a faucet has been in use for a while?
- After a very long time the lead leaching will decline, but we do not yet know how long this takes. It’s important to know that after a long time (7-10 years) a number of components in the faucet “break down” and again release various types of metal to the water. Lead is one of these. Why should we run the risk? Use a Zeromix® faucet, then you know for sure that you’re not. swallowing lead and nickel.
What effect does hard water have on the quantity of lead in my drinking water?
- Tests have shown that the rule is: the harder the drinking water, the more lead and nickel will find its way into it.
How is it possible that, in this day and age, there is still lead in our faucets?
- See: why is the media only talking about lead in drinking water now?
Can I die of lead poisoning?
- It’s possible! That depends on the degree of contamination.
Has it been scientifically demonstrated that lead could be harmful?
Aren’t there many more harmful substances that we are exposed to every day?
- That’s true, but why swallow one more if a small investment can lead to a healthier life?
How can I recognise a Zeromix faucet?
- You can recognise Zeromix® faucets by the dark ring on the base of the faucet. You can then be assured that you can drink from the faucet with confidence.
What if you are allergic to nickel?
- Most people with nickel allergies suffer from red itchy skin. Especially for these people we have provided the Zeromix® faucet, which is 100% lead and nickel-free.
Who suffers most from lead in drinking water?
- Children and pregnant women suffer most from drinking water with lead in it. Ultimately one chooses Zeromix® for one’s own health and for the environment. The nickel and lead also ends up in the environment and that's a serious problem.
Are Zeromix® faucets also better for the environment?
- Yes, Zeromix® faucets are certainly better for the environment because the waste water that ends up in the environment does not contain lead and nickel. That’s one less source of these heavy metals for the environment to cope with.
Zeromix® faucets versus my current faucet
- Zeromix® faucets are lead-free and nickel-free*, other faucets are not.
Surely the amount of lead that enters my drinking water from my current faucet is negligible?
No, this it's not negligible, because lead and nickel is always added to the water we drink. Lead will be stored in the body and is not broken down. Nickel raises the likelihood of skin irritations, which can quickly become a chronic problem.
Do Zeromix® faucets, like other faucets, contain lead compounds?
- Zeromix® faucets contain no lead compounds; they contain silver compounds.
What is the difference between the production of an ordinary faucet and Zeromix® faucets?
- We have made a substantial modification to ensure that our Zeromix® faucets are lead and nickel-free*. Yet the Zeromix® faucet is not more expensive, and is generally even cheaper, than other certificated faucets and those from good brands. The Zeromix® faucets are patented.
Where is the lead and nickel in my current faucet?
- There is lead and nickel in the whole faucet. This means that lead and nickel comes in contact with the drinking water and is dissolved into it, and so enters your body.
Are there other lead-free faucets?
- Not really. Often some other harmful substances must be added to replace the lead. Moreover other lead-free products are only temporarily lead-free. Until now, no-one has made a faucet of permanently lead-free brass.
If there’s no lead in the faucet, no doubt there will often be other harmful substances?
- That’s true! But not in Zeromix faucets!
Are certificated faucets automatically good?
- We can make it very easy for you: if a faucet is lead-free or nickel-free, this will be reported on the packaging in large letters. Certified faucets have in principle only been technically tested and approved (not for contamination).
What is the added value of the Zeromix® faucets in my house?
- When you sell your house, the Zeromix® faucet will add value to it. If you had the choice between a house with Zeromix® faucets and one with faucets containing lead, which would you prefer?
Do you not need to flush out Zeromix® faucets?
- Because our Zeromix® faucets contain no lead or nickel*, you do not need to run them to flush out contaminations. That’s a big step forward for the environment.
Do I only need to replace my faucet to get lead-free drinking water?
- No, you should also replace your faucet bases, in which the pipe of the Zeromix® faucets is screwed. We will soon be able to offer these.
Is there any point in replacing my faucet if there are cut-offs and pipe couplers made of brass in the water system?
- No question that it’s a good idea. The faucet itself produces most of the lead contamination.
What metals are there in a faucet?
- They include copper, zinc, lead, cadmium, nickel, and arsenic.
* Zeromix® faucets are produced without the harmful lead content and have no nickel or chrome parts in the water channels.