Queensland Government testing has found taps sold at supermarket chain Aldi could contaminate drinking water with lead at up 15 times the maximum allowable level.

Tests by Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services have led the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to warn people not to drinking or cooking with water from the Easy Home spiral spring mixer tap, advertised in Aldi's June 10 catalogue, “until more is known about the health risks that may be posed”.

Reports say up to 12,000 units have already been sold nationwide.

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) commissioned the tests on the tap, finding; “there is a cause for concern, and that the tapware may cause lead contamination of drinking water”.

QBCC said further testing was needed and that any drainage work, including removing the tapware, should only be completed by a licensed plumber.

The ACCC has not issued a formal recall of the product.

“ALDI is liaising with the responsible authorities and our supplier to investigate the matter with utmost urgency,” a spokesperson for the discount supermarket said.

The company says it has had the tapware independently tested and confirmed to comply with Australian standards before selling it.

“If at any stage test results confirm that chemical parameters do not meet regulatory requirements, ALDI will take appropriate action,” the spokesperson said.

The ACCC has urged any consumers who have purchased the taps but not had them installed to refund from Aldi if desired.

Paul Harvey, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Macquarie University, says this problem is surprisingly common.

“Our data shows that new taps in Australia are generally non-compliant for lead concentrations at the time of installation and this is reflected in the elevated concentrations of lead in drinking water at kitchen taps across the country,” Harvey says.

“Consumers can readily purchase off the shelf products that contain very high concentrations of lead, up to 4.5 per cent, compared to the maximum allowable USA value of 0.25 per cent, with no warning labels or indication of potential hazards.”

Despite recommendations for flushing taps prior to use, the experts say this is not always effective.

“This is an ongoing hazard associated with all lead-brass fittings Australia-wide and the only immediate solution to this problem for consumers is to install lead-free taps.”