Health: prevent lead in espresso machines

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Federal Institute for Risk Assessment demonstrates increased lead release in espresso machines

An increased intake of lead is associated with considerable health risks up to lead poisoning. In view of the possible damage to health, which can even be associated with low intake quantities, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has significantly reduced the limit values ​​for drinking water and from December 1st, stricter legal requirements apply here. However, research by the news magazine “Der Spiegel” apparently harbors an unprecedented risk, according to espresso machines. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) found that the limit value had been significantly exceeded in a current study.

In future, no more than 0.01 milligrams of lead may be contained per liter of water, according to the Federal Ministry of Health. Since the values ​​in lead pipes are generally higher, "lead pipes are practically unusable as drinking water pipes," explained the President of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Jochen Flasbarth. If the lead limit is exceeded, the health authority can oblige the water supplier or the landlord to remove the contamination, which in fact usually requires a complete replacement of the lead pipes. It can be assumed that the new limit values ​​will lead to a further decrease in lead intake via drinking water. However, the BfR has now identified espresso machines in the form of so-called portafilter machines, which are now quite widespread in Germany, as a new source of contamination.

Two out of three machines release lead In the BfR investigation, two out of three tested portafilter machines attracted negative attention because of their high lead release, according to "Der Spiegel". The technical judge's value was exceeded 100 times. In particular, immediately after decalcification, the lead charge was particularly high, but even days later, the concentrations were still five times higher than the limit, reports the news magazine. Due to the acidic decalcifying agents, the lead will probably be removed from individual machine parts. In terms of consumer safety, lead release must be minimized, so the BfR appeals to the manufacturers of the espresso machines. In view of the effect of lead as a nerve and blood poison, an increased sensitivity of the manufacturers seems urgently needed here. Especially since the lead, according to the Federal Ministry of Health, “can accumulate in the body and particularly affect the development of the nervous system in children.” Pregnant women, unborn babies, infants and toddlers in particular need preventive protection.

Regardless of the discussion about the release of lead by espresso machines, according to the Federal Ministry of Health, “it should always be ensured that the water for drinking or preparing food has not been in the pipes for too long (over four hours).” The tap was longer not in use, the water should be allowed to run briefly, "until it comes out of the pipe at a constant cool rate", the ministry advised. (fp)

Image: Maik Bolbeth /

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