Prior to 1970, lead was commonly used for pipework in and around properties because it was flexible yet robust. However, the use of lead pipework was banned in 1969, so properties built since this time are highly unlikely to contain lead pipework.
If you want to check the pipework in your property the best place to start is where the water supply enters your house. This is normally in the kitchen but can be elsewhere and is typically where the internal stopcock is located. Lead pipes are normally dark grey in colour but if gently scraped shiny silver coloured marks appear.
Other commonly used plumbing materials are: copper, which is bright or dull brown in colour and quite hard; galvanised iron, which is dark brown, very hard and may have some rusty deposits around it; and plastic, which can be blue or black.
Lead may also be introduced to drinking water through the illegal use of lead-based solder to join sections of copper pipework carrying drinking water. Lead-based solder can still be used within closed-loop central heating systems, however, sometimes this solder can mistakenly be used within pipework supplying drinking water.
Most houses have been re-plumbed above ground level but there may still be lead pipework in the ground under your property. This pipework is the responsibility of the property owner.