A water scare is brewing in Hong Kong over excessive lead content found in Hong Kong’s water supplies. Initial tests revealed excessive levels of lead in the water from the Kai Ching Estate in Kowloon City, while three more samples have been found to breach World Health Organisation (WHO) safety levels.

Fears are growing over the safety of water supplied to Hong Kong’s public housing after a contamination scare spread yesterday in a development which a top government official has described as “highly concerning”.

Tests will now be carried out at four other estates – Lung Yat Estate in Tuen Mun, Cheung Sha Wan Estate in Sham Shui Po, Shui Chuen O Estate in Sha Tin, and Kwai Luen Estate in Kwai Chung – all of which used the same licensed plumber as the Kai Ching Estate.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was quick to react.

“The Hong Kong government is highly concerned about the incident,” she said. “The priority now is to instruct the building contractor to provide a resolution to locate all possible pipe parts which might contain lead, and to replace them as soon as possible with the least interruption to residents.”

As officials moved to calm health fears and offer blood tests to residents deemed high-risk, it has also emerged that a possible cause of the contamination could be soldering materials used at pipe joints.

Director of Housing Stanley Ying Yiu-hong said three of the 36 water samples taken in the latest batch of tests were found to have a lead amount which exceeded the World Health Organisation guideline, which states the lead value in drinking water should not go above 10 micrograms per litre.

Long term exposure to lead, when accumulated in large amounts in the body, may result in anaemia, increased blood pressure and brain and kidney damage.

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