‘This is not a joke’: High levels of lead found in water at Canadian daycares, schools | CTV News
TORONTO — A new study has found that some Canadian cities have higher levels of lead in their drinking water than Flint, Michigan, which has become synonymous with contaminated H20.
The year-long investigation, conducted by more than 120 journalists from nine universities and 10 media groups including The Associated Press and the Institute for Investigative Journalism at Concordia University in Montreal, reviewed thousands of previously undisclosed results and tested water from hundreds of homes in 11 different cities. Researchers recorded lead levels above national safety directives, including at some schools and daycares.
About one-third of tests exceeded the Canadian guidelines of 5 parts per billion with some of the highest levels recorded in Montreal, Regina and Prince Rupert, B.C. Prolonged exposure to high amounts of lead over months or years can result in lead poisoning, which can cause serious health effects, particularly among young children.
In Canada, there is no national mandate to test drinking water and agencies that conduct tests have no obligation to inform residents. Provinces set their own rules for water testing and lead pipe replacement. In British Columbia, where Prince Rupert recorded lead levels of 15.6 ppb, municipalities are not required to test tap water.
“There is a patchwork of testing systems across the country,” said Toronto Star investigative reporter Robert Cribb, in an interview with CTV News Channel. “Politicians have not turned their attention to this. This has not been on the public radar at all. Our attempt here is to try and renew a conversation about this.”
One of the issues discovered in the investigation is that many jurisdictions aren’t even sure how much of their water system uses lead pipes. The investigation involved surveying cities across the country about their lead pipe networks, said Cribb. Surveys revealed that most cities only have “estimates.”
“We still have lead pipes everywhere and we don’t even seem to understand where they are,” he said.
If the water in your home comes from lead pipes, it’s your responsibility to replace them. That could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, said Cribb, who himself had to replace the pipes at his Toronto home.
But if the lead pipes are on the other side of the property line, replacement rests on government. What then? “Scream,” said Cribb. “Tell them they need to do it. Make a lot of noise. Talk to your neighbours. Create political pressure. The fact is that this is not a joke. The health implications for this are very serious.”
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