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Study of Lead in Drinking Water (HKIE Report)
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Study of Lead in Drinking Water (HKIE Report)

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Task Force on Episode of Lead Residue Found in Tap Water

A report prepared by Past President of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and Past Chair of the CIBSE Hong Kong Branch Peter Wong, for the Hong Kong Judiciary, in response to issues around the safety of drinking water in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE) noted incidents of lead contaminant in drinking water, initially found in one public housing estate, had spread fuelling wide media coverage and causing uncertainties, worries and unnecessary panic.

As the only institution by statute, representing the engineering profession on HKSAR, the HKIE undertook to set up a dedicated task force to look at this episode aiming to better, and more accurately, inform the public on the engineering aspects involved. This is in accordance with the objectives of the Institute that public health is always of paramount importance for engineering professionals.     

The scope of this study was to assess how plumbing work was carried out in the housing estates and whether the quality of drinking water was safeguarded. It is confined to the installations of plumbing systems using copper pipes and copper and copper alloy fittings used in public housing estates. Also, the contaminant focused on is lead, the residue of which can critically affect human health. 

The Task Force membership is largely drawn from the Building Services division of HKIE and the Hong Kong branch of CIBSE, but assisted by the Australian, Canadian and UK Chapters of HKIE. 

Steering Chairs: Peter Wong, KT Cheuk, C M Chung, Andrew Wong & Dr P L Yuen; Editorial Chairs: Dr P L Yuen, C M Chung, Carrie Cheung & Patrick Lee; Research Chairs: Andrew Wong, K T Cheuk, Dr Wai Ling Lee, Franky Shum, Benjamin Ho.   


Task Force Members

I Background

II Introduction

III The study

Part 1 Ordinance and Regulations

  • Licensed Plumber
  • Credit due
  • Contamination
    •    System Integrity
    •    Other Joints
    •    Flux
    •    Soldering
    •    Lead leaching from copper alloy
    •    Metal and Alloy
  • Preventive Measures
  • Water Sampling Testing Protocol
  • Water Sampling in Public Housing Estates
  • Credit Due

Part 2 Public Housing Estates
Project Construction
Plumbing Installation
Credit Due

IV Observations

  • Licensed Plumber
  • Lapse of Product Certificates
  • WSD Procedure - Water Sampling Testing
  • Test results in the public housing estates
  • Causation of lead contamination
  • 10µg/litre

V Recommendations

  • Water Supplies Department
  • Housing Department
  • Water Quality
  • Health, Safety and Environment



  • Appendix A WSD Specification and Current British Standards
  • Appendix B Licensed Plumber
  • Appendix C Tin Solder - lead free?
  • Appendix D Allowable Lead Content
  • Appendix E Sampling protocols of different regions
  • Appendix F HD Specifications Comparison
  • Appendix G Testing of the Lead Content in Drinking Water- What, When & How
  • Appendix H Inventory of Sampling Flats Tested at Public Housing Estates
  • Appendix I Lead content leaching tests


Steering Committee
Chair: Ir Peter Y Wong
Members: Ir K T Cheuk; Ir C M Chung; Ir Andrew M W Wong; Ir Dr P L Yuen; Ir Carrie Cheung; Mr Patrick W W Lee; Ir Andrew M W Wong; Ir Dr Wai Ling Lee; Ir Franky W L Shum; Dr Benjamin P L Ho

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