Hong Kong’s lead in water scandal task force releases final report

After more than three months of waiting, a task force set up to investigate excessive lead in the water supply of some of Hong Kong’s public housing estates has delivered its final report.

The group concluded that lead levels above the WHO limit found at Kwai Leung Estate (Phase Two) and Kai Ching Estate in Kowloon City were caused by the use of leaded materials to solder the joints in pipes.

Copper alloy fittings were also found to be leaking lead, but not in excessive amounts.

The task force took apart more than 100 pipe components and fittings from the two estates in the process of the investigation. It also compared the results of tests with those of Hung Hei House at Hung Fuk Estate in Yuen Long, which used stainless steel piping that did not require solder jointing. Unsurprisingly, the water supply at the latter estate was found to comply with WHO guidelines. 

Nine other housing estates found to have excessive lead in the water had the same lead soldering as Kai Ching Estate and Kwai Leung Estate (Phase Two). We’re starting to sense a pattern here.

NOT to use soldering materials with lead in them was thankfully among the recommendations made by the task force. It was, however, decided that no follow-up is needed at Kai Ching Estate’s Mun Ching House where Legionnaires’ Disease was detected in the water on May 28, since disinfection was successful. 

Meanwhile, at the first day of a hearing into the scandal yesterday, both the government and the construction industry said they were unaware that lead soldering could result in tainted water, despite the concept being widely reported, including in a WHO study.

The inquiry heard that workers could save HKD79 a flat if leaded materials were used. 

Photo: Rick Harris

Related Stories:

Excessive lead in water could be good for residents, Hong Kong lawmaker suggests

Commission set up to investigate lead in Hong Kong water as more shocking test results flood in

Hong Kong’s lead in water epidemic spills over into luxury residences

Government doctor says public ‘may not comprehend’ her confusing lead testing comments

Legionella bacteria now found in HK housing estate’s lead-heavy water

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