More than 50 per cent of Australians have been exposed to contaminated drinking water, according to a report by a federal parliamentary inquiry.
Key points:Experts say contamination could have been caused by contamination in an industrial setting or by the introduction of a plastic spongeA new report found a range of other factors could have caused the contaminationThe report says a range in water quality in Australia, including pollution from agricultural and industrial sources, could also have contributed to the contaminationKey points :Ceramic sponge holders are often used in homes and commercial spaces for a variety of purposes, including cooking and cleaningA range of contaminants have been identified in Australian drinking water from industrial and residential sources, including plastic pollution from a plastic container, and the introduction and spread of a ceramic sponge.
The inquiry heard toxic metals from plastic containers, pesticides and solvents could also contribute to the problems.
“We have identified a range to the problem of contaminated drinking-water,” independent senator and Environment and Energy spokesman Senator Nick Xenophon said.
“It may not be a problem in your own backyard, but it is a problem for us all.”
Ceramics are used in many industries, including the home and commercial, but they can also be used in the kitchen and in kitchens and other places.
“If the householders do not know about these contaminants, they may not realise they are putting themselves at risk.”
Mr Xenophon has called for a “tougher response” to the contaminated water problem.
The report by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Environment, Health and Family Services (JCSESS) said the contamination of drinking-waters is not limited to one specific industry.
“The report also identifies a range other factors that may have contributed, such as contamination from agricultural, industrial, household and recreational activities, and household and commercial use of ceramic sponges,” it said.
The Committee said the levels of contaminants found in drinking-wastewater were “unprecedented”.
The report, commissioned by the Senate Committee on Environment and Heritage and published this week, was commissioned by Senator Xenophon to “set out the scope and scope of the problem” and to “identify the most appropriate and effective solutions to the water contamination problem”.
“The committee recommends that a range be developed to deal with the situation and it will be a matter for the states and territories to consider how best to address the problem,” the report said.
Senator Xenophon’s office did not respond to questions from ABC News.
The committee’s report found contamination in some drinking-labor areas was due to contaminated ceramic spoons.
In a review of drinking water in the Adelaide region, the committee said it had found more than 20 cases of contamination in the community.
The number of ceramic sponge holders in Adelaide was “quite large” and “the majority were used for cooking”, the report found.
“One of the findings from our work in the area was that ceramic spools can contain up to 1.2 mg of aluminium,” it added.
“In many cases, these spools were reused to reuse them in the same ceramic dishwasher.”
“This aluminium has a very high affinity for the copper in the sponge, so when a sponge is used in a dishwasher, the aluminium can end up in the dishwasher as well.”
A study published in 2013 by the Environmental Protection Agency found contamination of the drinking-tourism industry was widespread in Australia.
The agency said the majority of contamination could be attributed to “the use of high-pressure and/or high-temperature ceramic spongs in industrial environments”.
The research found contamination rates in Australia were highest in rural and remote areas.
“This was found to be particularly true for the highest-potency, high-contamination areas such as commercial water treatment facilities, where it is thought that these sites may be more exposed to contamination,” the research report said, quoting data from the Environment Protection Agency.
“These areas include mining operations, oil and gas operations, industrial waste-treatment plants, and agricultural and processing facilities.”
A total of 561,500 people were identified as having been exposed “to drinking-source contamination” from January 2017 to August 2021, according a report commissioned by Senate Health and Human Services Committee chairwoman Jacqui Lambie.
In 2016, Senator Xenophobia asked the Federal Government to set up a taskforce to investigate contamination.
The taskforce has been disbanded, but Mr Xenophon called on the Government to appoint a new, independent committee to look into the problem.
“I have called on my Federal Government colleagues to establish a new independent inquiry into the drinking water contamination crisis in Australia,” he said.
Mr Xenophobia’s call came as the government announced it was “urgently” revising its policy on drinking-colours, a move that came after a new report recommended that more regulation should be introduced.