The Identification and Synthesis of Lead Apatite Minerals Formed in Lead Water Pipes

Jeremy D. Hopwood, Glyn R. Derrick, David R. Brown, Christopher D. Newman, John Haley, Richard Kershaw, Mike Collinge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Phosphate is added to drinking water in the UK to minimise the release of lead from lead water pipes. The phosphate encourages the formation of insoluble lead apatites on the walls of the pipe. Hydroxylpyromorphite Pb5(PO4)3OH is the lead apatite that is most often used to model lead levels in tap water; however, its presence has not been confirmed. Our aims were to identify the lead pipe apatite and synthesise it. The synthetic mineral would then be used in future solubility studies to produce better predictions of lead levels in tap water. XRD and FTIR were used to characterise the minerals on a range of lead pipes. Pyromorphite and hydroxylpyromorphite were absent and instead a range of mixed calcium lead apatites were present. For every five lead ions in the general formula Pb5(PO4)3X between one and two ions were replaced with calcium and there was evidence of substitution of PO43- by either CO32- or HPO24-. Calcium lead apatites with similar unit cell dimensions to those found on lead water pipes were then synthesised. The calcium : lead ratio in these reaction mixtures was in excess of 500 : 1 and the resulting crystals were shown by TEM to be nanosized rods and flakes. The synthetic apatites that most closely resembled the unit cell dimensions of the apatites on lead water pipes were shown to be Pb3.4Ca1.3(PO4)3Cl0.03OH0.97, Pb3.6Ca1.2(PO4)3Cl0.07OH0.93, and Pb3.6Ca1.2(PO4)3Cl0.27OH0.73.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2016


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