Residents of north-east Tasmania may have been unknowingly drinking lead-laced water for years, experts have warned.
Five Tasmanian towns including Pioneer and Winnaleah have water supplies that cannot be consumed at all, and another twenty-two towns must boil their water before drinking.
“We just don’t know how long there’s been a contamination issue here for because the only data that I’ve been able to access only goes so many years back,” said Professor Mark Taylor, an environmental scientist who has studied the contamination levels.
“We don’t know how far back the water contamination issue has been going on for,” Professor Taylor told the ABC.
Lead levels were 22 times higher than safe standards in the town of Pioneer, a Macquarie University study has found.
The contamination has been caused mainly by degraded pipes, the study found.
It was “possible” that unsafe lead levels went unnoticed for years “because the testing regime was only brough in in 2009”, TasWater chief executive Mike Brewster told the ABC.