It’s been some thirty plus years since there were any water purity issues in Europe (though I’ve heard of recent problems in Barcelona), but that doesn’t mean you should drink every bit of water you see. We stay away from lapping up standing water in curbside puddles as a rule, and we avoid the water coming out of spigots marked “eau non-potable.” However, there is one risk area that is still a part of the older buildings in Paris, aging water systems that pose a risk of lead contamination.
Many older buildings have lead piping that has severely degraded over time and leaches lead into the water. This is especially true in buildings with lower occupancy, since the longer the water sits, the greater the risk. In older buildings where you’re not sure of the water supply, it’s wise to drink filtered water or buy your water at the store, especially if you are staying there for an extended period.
It’s impractical to remove this old piping unless major renovations are underway. However, many buildings, like the one in which our apartment is located, have replaced all piping in recent years along with the addition of elevators and other upgrades. Even so, we have a Brita filter we keep in the refrigerator, not for fear of lead, but we think the water just tastes better, and we hate lugging those bottles of Evian around (even though a Monoprix is only three doors away!).
PS: Did you know that lead is also a problem in the U.S.?
All but about 3 percent of public pipelines containing lead have been replaced with nontoxic materials, according to the American Water Works Association, a water-treatment industry scientific and educational group. Pipes with lead solder on the fittings were banned by the 1986 Safe Drinking Water Act. Nevertheless, some buildings built before 1986 are leaking lead into water systems as they age. From the Washington Times.