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Still Waters

Lead found in rural drinking water supplies in West Africa

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Still Waters

Scientists are warning that drinking water supplies in parts of rural West Africa are being contaminated by lead-containing materials used in small community water systems such as boreholes with handpumps and public taps.

They analyzed scrapings taken from the plumbing of 61 community water supply systems in Ghana, Mali and Niger. Eighty percent of the tested systems had at least one component that contained lead in excess of international guidance.

The study, by a research team from the University of Leeds, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Boston University, also took samples of the water from those 61 water distribution systems, and from a further 200 taps and boreholes with handpumps.

Sixty percent of the samples contained lead—nine percent were at a level that exceeded World Health Organisation guidelines.



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