Lead pipes in the home

Was your home built before 1960? Then there may be too much lead in your drinking water. This is due to old lead water pipes in the home. Too much lead can be harmful to health. New taps or pipes can also temporarily release lead.

Too much lead has been found in drinking water in a number of old houses in Amsterdam. This is due to old lead water pipes in the home. These districts include Tuindorp Nieuwendam and Tuindorp Buiksloot in Amsterdam North.

We understand that residents are worried about their drinking water. Clean drinking water is incredibly important for everyone. Do you believe you have lead pipes in your home? Read here what you can do about it.

Old lead pipes

Water pipes made of lead may still be present in houses built before 1960. Small particles of lead can get into your drinking water through these pipes. This can be harmful to your health.

In the 1990s, Waternet replaced the lead pipes outside the houses (up to the main valve or meter installation on the ground floor) with other materials. However, the water pipes in a building can still be (partly) made of lead. When rebuilding and refurbishing houses, lead pipes are usually replaced.

Does Waternet know if there are lead pipes in my house?

No. Only the owner of the house can know or look into that. Waternet can help the owner find out if there are lead interior pipes. 

Need help investigating lead pipes? Request information about your property.

How do I recognise lead pipes?

  • First look where your water meter is located. This is usually in your meter closet or near the boiler. And sometimes in the toilet, bathroom, kitchen, or the hatch under your front or back door. The water pipes run on both sides of the water meter.
  • Don't have a water meter? Locate the main valve.

A lead water pipe (here on the right side of the water meter) can be recognised by its dark grey colour.

You can easily recognise a lead water pipe in two ways:

  • By the colour. Lead pipes are usually dull and grey in colour. If you rub it with sandpaper, however, the pipe will turn silver. Pipes made of copper are often green. They turn yellow or red when you rub them with sandpaper.
  • By the sound. A lead pipe makes a dull sound when you tap it. When stuck by a spoon, for example.

Take a look at the video (in Dutch) from our colleagues at water company Dunea about recognising lead pipes.

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A qualified technician can check whether you have lead pipes. Find a professional via www.technieknederland.nl.

I have lead pipes, what do I do?

Have lead pipes in your home replaced.

  • Do you own the house? Then you can do that yourself (or have it done).
  • Do you rent? Then ask the owner or housing association to do so. This is not mandatory, however.

Lead and health

Are you unable to replace the lead pipes right away? And do you want to know if the drinking water is safe? On the website of GGD Amsterdam, you will find everything you need to know about lead and health.

Can I test my drinking water?

Are you unsure if you have lead pipes? And do you want to know if there is too much lead in your drinking water? Then you can test your drinking water.

  • Do you rent? Please contact your housing association or landlord.
  • Do you own the house? Then you can have your water tested by Het Waterlaboratorium. You can request a test via loodinwatertesten.nl. You can also read here how much a test costs. And what the outcome means for you.

Is the water in the public water taps safe?

There are lots of water taps in the streets of Amsterdam. Some are now used by residents to tap drinking water. These water taps are directly connected to the Waternet network. So they do not have lead connecting pipes.

Research has been done into the water quality of the 3 taps that are now widely used in Amsterdam North. This study looked at the presence of lead in drinking water. At all three taps, 0.5 µg or less lead per litre of water was present. This is the smallest measurable quantity possible. So the water from the water taps is fine.

The measurement results per water tap:

  • Wognummerplantsoen: less than 0,5 µg / liter
  • Texelplein: less than 0.5 µg / litre
  • Hoekschewaardweg: 0,5 µg / liter

Do you have a new home or new tap?

A new water pipe in the house or a new tap can release lead or other metals to the drinking water during the first 3 months. Below you can read what you can do about it.

New tap

Open new taps for 10 seconds before drinking the water. After 3 months you can start using the tap without waiting first.

New water pipes

New water pipes in the house can temporarily release metal in the water. Do you stop using water for eight hours at a time? Such as when you sleep or go to work? Then don't drink your tap water immediately. First flush the toilet, take a shower, or open the tap for 2 minutes. After 3 months, you can use water without having to wait.

More information

  • On the Drinkwaterplatform you can read more about lead water pipes in your home.
  • In 2019, the RIVM published a report regarding old lead water pipes and new taps in the home.