Kingston Sheetmetal stainless steel tank update

Kingston Sheetmetal stainless steel tank update

The Public and Environmental Health Service (PEHS) has now had contact with 76 of the 81 identified owners of Kingston Sheetmetal stainless steel tanks on the manufacturer's customer list.

This accounts for 112 of the 118 tanks that the company says it sold.

Another 32 people have contacted DHHS concerned they had a Kingston Sheetmetal stainless steel tank. Through these enquiries, and water testing, a further 9 tanks have been identified as stainless steel tanks made using lead solder.

PEHS has received results of tests of water from 63 Kingston Sheetmetal stainless steel tanks. These show an average lead concentration of 254 micrograms per litre (µg/L). All 63 tanks failed the Australian Drinking Water Guideline health-based lead limit of 10µg/L.

PEHS also received results of tests of water from 57 galvanised iron tanks. These show an average lead level of 2.9µg/L. Four of these tanks did exceed the 10µg/L health limit, but at this stage it appears likely that other factors (such as plumbing fixtures) explain these lesser exceedances.

The Public Health Act requires laboratories to notify PEHS of blood lead results higher than 10 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), in persons not exposed to lead through their occupation. PEHS has received 13 blood lead notifications ranging from 10µg/dL to 26µg/dL from people (including three children) reported to have consumed water from stainless steel rainwater tanks. PEHS has been advised of a further three children with blood lead levels in the range 5µg/dL to 10µg/dL.

While mild to moderately elevated blood lead levels do not cause acute lead poisoning, it remains important to minimise the intake of lead. Lead accumulates in the body, has no useful role, and may cause harm. Once exposure to lead is stopped, lead will gradually be eliminated from the body, and blood lead levels will fall.

If they have not already done so, people with these stainless steel tanks should discuss blood lead testing with their doctor.

We remind owners of Kingston Sheetmetal stainless steel tank that these tanks are not fit for storing drinking water for themselves, their family, pets or livestock.

Boiling the water does not remove the lead and only certain types of filters will remove the lead to levels safe for human consumption – tank owners should specifically check this with their filter manufacturer. We do not recommend filters as a long-term solution – the construction of these tanks means water in it will always pose a risk to health.

We also warn people against quick "fixes" for these tanks. Such fixes are unlikely to solve the underlying problem and may be dangerous.

Workplace Standards Tasmaniawill work with tank owners and councils toaffix a health warning on these stainless steel tanks to ensure future owners are aware they are unfit for drinking water.

We urge people who think they may have a Kingston Sheetmetal stainless steel tank, but have not yet contacted the PEHS, to ring the Public Health Helpline on 1800 671 738.

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 12 April 2013