Aldi scandal: Tap found to contain lead
A SUSPECT tap declared safe by Aldi has been found to contain dangerous levels of lead in a new test.
The test on the Easy Home spiral spring mixer kitchen tap said it gives off as much as 21 times the maximum allowable amount of the poisonous metal into water run through it.
Aldi sold the tap to about 12,000 households nationally (3000 in Qld, no other state breakdown) in June 2016 and June 2017.
Experts who have seen the new test result are warning consumers against using water from the tap for cooking or drinking.
The new test was done for the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) and obtained by News Corp Australia under the state's Right to Information Act. Its emergence has forced Aldi to release earlier testing it commissioned, which found the tap is safe.
To put an end to the matter Aldi said it and the QBCC have agreed to partner on a "definitive round of testing", with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission keeping a close watch.
An ACCC spokeswoman said: "Should the accredited testing show unacceptable levels of lead, the ACCC would expect Aldi to recall these taps."
The QBCC first raised the alarm about the tap, which retailed for $79.99, on July 10. In response Aldi said the tap had passed the Australian Standard before being sold, but it commissioned further testing and criticised the QBCC's investigation as deficient.
In late July Aldi said its further testing again saw the tap pass the standard - although it kept the documentation private until it became aware News Corp Australia had obtained the QBCC's new test, which Aldi says is also flawed.
"The report (for the QBCC) is missing critical product and manufacturer information required to confirm the identity and origin of the product," an Aldi spokesman said. "It also lacks information regarding testing protocols."
Still, experts shown the new test for the QBCC warned consumers against using water from the tap for drinking or cooking - particularly the first few litres of hot water after the tap hadn't been used for a while.
"This is way above the water guidelines," said Macquarie University emeritus professor Brian Gulson, who was on the National Health and Medical Research Council that set Australia's current blood lead limits.
"If I had this tap and couldn't change it I would leave it on the 'cold' setting and then discard the first two to four litres of water."
But University of Melbourne School of Chemistry professor Ian Rae went further.
"I wouldn't use the water from this tap," he said.
"The test results suggest that, at least with hot water, the leaching continues and so … discarding the first litre or two won't help. Lead should be leached more slowly by cold water than by hot, but without testing it's hard to know. The only sure way is to not use the tap."
Julie Magee, who bought the tap, said: "It's scary. You've got to wonder, would Aldi's management give their kids the water from that tap?"
The NSW Central Coast mother of two chose to not have it installed after learning of the QBCC's suspicions in July.
Melinda Marie did have the tap installed and used water from it for drinking and cooking while pregnant with daughter Arizona, now 1-year-old. It then broke and she had it replaced.
"If I had known I would not have used that tap," the Tooradin, Victoria, mum said