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Lead poisoning fears: Plumber raided over contamination

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AUTHORITIES have raided the home of Brett George Hogan, the plumber and electrician whose work may have delivered water contaminated with lead into homes.

A major warning from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission on Tuesday warned that repairs done by Mr Hogan on the Fraser and Sunshine coasts and in Wide Bay, Caboolture, Logan, Bundaberg, Gympie and throughout Moreton Bay could be affecting the drinking water in homes.

In the past five years, Mr Hogan's company Hot Water One has worked on 796 properties. The QBCC is now attempting to contact those living in those homes.

On Thursday, the Commission took its investigation to Mr Hogan's house after obtaining an warrant.

QBCC Commissioner Brett Bassett said Mr Hogan was "cooperative".

"Our top priority right now is to get in contact with the people at the 796 properties potentially affected by non-compliant plumbing work.

Already 145 homeowners have been contacted about the works done by Mr Hogan and Hot Water One.

The QBCC has also inspected 39 properties.

Mr Hogan's licence has been suspected and he has copped a $7000 fine -- the maximum penalty it could impose.

"We're currently contacting the people whose properties we know could be affected, but if anyone has any concerns, they're encouraged to call us at any time," Mr Bassett said.

If a home or property owner believes there could be an issue with work done by Mr Hogan or Hot Water One, they can phone the QBCC on 139 333 to arrange for a free inspection by the QBCC or a Local Government Authority.

 

READ THE FULL WARNING BELOW

THIS is a warning by the Commissioner of the QBCC to the public under section 20J(1)(h) of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) has issued a warning to home and property owners who have contracted with plumbing-electrical contractor Brett George Hogan about a potential public health issue related to his work with hot water systems.

QBCC Commissioner, Brett Bassett, said a QBCC investigation had confirmed the use by Mr Hogan of a soft-lead solder product with a lead content above the amount allowed by Australian Standards.

The solder is frequently used in electrical work but is not appropriate for plumbing work due to the potential risk of contamination of the water supply.

A QBCC investigation of 28 Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast properties where Mr Hogan performed plumbing work has found eight properties where the non-compliant solder was used.

Mr Bassett said the QBCC was continuing to investigate jobs done by Mr Hogan, who has worked in Wide Bay, the Fraser and Sunshine coasts, Caboolture, Logan, Bundaberg, Gympie and the Moreton Bay region.

"The QBCC records show that Mr Hogan has undertaken 796 notifiable works for the replacement of hot water systems since 2012," Mr Bassett said.

"Yesterday I instructed my officers to contact each of the residents or owners of the 796 properties involved.

"The 796 properties may include commercial and industrial premises and may not necessarily be limited to homes or units."

The QBCC has contacted all relevant Local Government Authorities regarding the issue.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer, Dr Sonya Bennett, said that while the risk of exposure was low, people with hot water systems where lead solder has or might have been used, should not consume hot water from the system or use hot water for cooking, and minimise ingestion when showering or bathing.

Lead can leach into drinking water in small amounts over time.

Dr Bennett said given our current understanding of the nature of the work undertaken, the amount of lead leached into the pipes was likely to be low.  However, as lead has no beneficial use in the body, and can be a risk to health, exposure should be minimised.

QBCC and Queensland Health representatives will attend four of the properties today to obtain water samples for testing. The QBCC is currently making testing arrangements with residents at the other four properties.

If lead is detected in water samples from the system, the affected household will be advised on health risks, including any need for blood lead testing.

"It's not possible to know the full risk until we understand the amount of lead solder used, where in the hot water system it was used, the likelihood of the lead being in contact with water in the system and the typical pattern of household hot water use," Dr Bennett said.

People requiring health information on lead should contact their GP or call 13HEALTH.

If a home or property owner believes there could be an issue with work done by Mr Hogan, they can phone the QBCC on 139 333 to arrange for a free inspection by the QBCC or a Local Government Authority.

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