Drinking water hygiene begins with planning and installation.
Safe drinking water installations are essential for human health. Technicians, planners and fitters of drinking water systems take on a responsible and important task which is often not easy. Sometimes it can be a challenge to not loose track of current specifications, standards and regulations.
BEULCO acts as a partner and supports those responsible for drinking water systems. BEULCO set up the Green Label back in 2013. All products and product components with this label are made from 100% UBA-compliant material and meet the strict requirements of drinking water regulation.
The European Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC and the German Drinking Water Ordinance stipulate the legal requirements for the special protection of drinking water. This means drinking water systems must be planned, built and operated in such a manner that hazards and illnesses are not caused by the installation. Moover, in Germany current standards and regulations set by the Federal Environment Agency and the DVGW also deal with this issue. Maintaining an overview of all the regulations is often a challenge in and of itself.
Here you will find all information concerning legal requirements for drinking water.
Lead in products for drinking water installations?
Brass has been considered a reliable material for drinking water installations for centuries. Being a copper-zinc alloy, brass often however contains lead as an additive which makes it easier to work with. Like many other heavy metals, lead is a neurotoxin and is particularly hazardous for children and infants. This is why the WHO defined the objective in 1993 to limit the threshold of lead in drinking water to a maximum of 10 µg/l. In 1998, the problems of releasing certain alloy components into drinking water were taken into consideration with the publication of the EC drinking water directive 98/83/EC, which included the specification of the WHO-backed threshold for lead in drinking water at 10 µg/l. As a result of a change to the drinking water directive, fitters in Germany have been obligated since December 2013 to use materials that comply with these guidelines.
Due to the Drinking Water Regulation, the requirements on materials that are used in drinking water installations have tightened significantly. The assessment basis of the Federal Environment Agency for metallic substances in contact with drinking water was set out and published on 10th April 2015 – the two-year transition period pursuant to Section 17 (3) of the Drinking Water Regulation also began on this date. After the end of the transition period, substances that are not entered on the UBA list may no longer be used in components which contact drinking water. This means all those responsible in the action chain – not only the fitters – can expect legal consequences if unapproved materials are used in construction projects for drinking water installations after 10th April 2017.
The problem for planners and fitters
Products are therefore often used which have a reduced lead content, meaning that they comply with all the requirements of the Drinking Water Regulation and the positive list of the UBA. However, this can lead to problems with respect to drinking water hygiene as it has been shown that individual built-in components, such as a valve, line connector or other parts, release lead into the drinking water as a result of minimal corrosion rates – although this is technically still permissible in the terms of the drinking water regulation as each individual component, observed separately, is non-critical in relation to the lead threshold. The situation only becomes critical once the lead release of each individual component is aggregated. The drinking water installation can then become problematic due to the increased lead content in the drinking water. This naturally has negative consequences for the fitting firms as the built-in components were rightly declared as suitable for drinking water by the manufacturer as each individual product does not exceed the threshold. There is, however, the risk of the corrosion rates aggregating, resulting in the overall lead threshold likely being exceeded.
BEULCO therefore felt itself called upon as manufacturer to create the Green Label in order to support fitters and planners in their work. All the products and product components marked with this label are made from 100% UBA-compliant material and comply with the strict requirements of the Drinking Water Regulation. This ensures that no lead is released into the drinking water.
Legionella: Danger to human health
Legionella in particular pose a significant hazard to human health. According to estimates by the Federal Environment Agency, each year approximately 30,000 people in Germany alone contract pneumonia as a result of legionella. The mortality rate from legionellosis in Germany is currently approximately 7%. In drinking water systems, bacteria are able to multiply where there is stagnant water and no exchange of water. This is the case, for example, if rarely used or completely unused supply lines remain attached to the supply network or there are other technical defects. In this way, apartments that have stood empty for extended periods of time may pose a risk factor, where, in the worst case, the drinking water system in a whole building may become contaminated.
Legionella can also persist on surfaces for long periods of time through the formation of biofilms, if the conditions are suitable. Legionella proliferates significantly if the temperatures in warm-water systems are between 25 and 50°C. However, pseudomonas is also able to proliferate in cold water temperatures in drinking water systems. In principle, it is possible to contract an infection after contact with tap water if the legionella is able to enter the deeper areas of the lungs. Showers, systems such as air conditioning units, humidifiers, whirlpools, mist generators, fountains etc. pose an infection risk in particular.
Limits for legionella
Due to the acute health risk, the amended Drinking Water Ordinance includes a technical action value of 100CFU/100ml (colony-forming units per ml). In the event this value is exceeded, the drinking water system must be hygienically inspected by means of a hazard analysis conducted by the operator. In order to check this value regularly, the Drinking Water Ordinance prescribes systematic inspections for certain installations.
Drinking water sampling
In Germany, the Drinking Water Ordinance prescribes regular, systemic inspections for legionella for all public or commercially used high-duty systems in the terms of the DVGW Code of Practice W 551. The term ‘systemic’ makes clear that the inspection procedure does not involve the determination of a lack of legionella at all individual outlets, but rather a sample test to determine possible contamination with legionella in parts of the drinking water installation that can have an influence on a larger number of outlets, in particular in the central parts of the installation such as the distributor, drinking water heating system or the circulation lines.
The European Drinking Water Directive 93/89/EC also prescribes regular sampling of drinking water. Member states are obliged to adopt the regulations in their national laws.
The European Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC from November 3, 1998 concerns the quality of water intended for human consumption. Its objective is to protect human health from adverse effects of any contamination of water intended for human consumption by ensuring that it is wholesome and clean.
It acts as a major guideline for regulations in terms of drinking water. All member states have to adopt these regulations to their national law. Moreover, the Directive also requires providing regular information to consumers. In addition, drinking water quality has to be reported to the European Commission every three years.
The Drinking Water Directive applies to:
- all distribution systems serving more than 50 people or supplying more than 10 cubic meter per day, but also distribution systems serving less than 50 people/supplying less than 10 cubic meter per day if the water is supplied as part of an economic activity;
- drinking water from tankers;
- drinking water in bottles or containers;
- water used in the food-processing industry, unless the competent national authorities are satisfied that the quality of the water cannot affect the wholesomeness of the foodstuff in its finished form.
Source: European Commission, 2016
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The issue of drinking water hygiene and thus sampling of drinking water has attracted much attention in recent years. Different norms and regulations, especially regulations set by the European Commission, require regular tests of drinking water.
Products for drinking water sampling need to be of highest quality. BEULCO sampling valves adhere to the latest norms and regulations and are made of anti-microbiological material in order to protect water quality