Lead Found in Drinking Water in Schools

Eight Hamilton schools and daycares were found to have too much lead in their drinking water through testing of individual taps in 2016. Eric Mathews, the city’s director of safe water, stated that it’s definitely a concern that has to be dealt with. Mathews said he’s thankful for provincial guidelines that need schools and child-care centers to flush pipes daily or weekly – based on the time of buildings – and test for lead concentrations in drinking water. Kids are a vulnerable population to lead exposure.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Elementary School had lead levels in drinking water over five times greater than the provincial standard of 10 parts per billion, showed evaluation results from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change acquired by the Toronto Star. The east Mountain school failed three drinking water tests of individual taps during an appliance repair service and air conditioning installation in July, 2016 – among them after the system was flushed.

Pat Daly, seat of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, is confident the 2017 results will show marked improvement. In St. Kateri, they shifted significant sections of pipes, piping and joints to the satisfaction of the public health department. As required, they are being flushed on a cycle every day and will stay so for a couple of decades.

In total, two from Hamilton’s 56 Catholic colleges failed lead tests. The other was St. Martin of Tours Catholic Elementary School in Stoney Creek, which had a standing water test above the provincial standard in July. Two from Hamilton’s 108 public colleges also were found to have too much lead in their drinking water.

École Élémentaire Michaëlle Jean in Binbrook had lead levels over double the brink while Queensdale Elementary School on the central Mountain failed a test after the machine was flushed. Reputation samples are more likely to reveal lead since they’re taken while the plumbing has not been used for at least six hours. A flushed sample is after the water has run for at least five minutes and then left unused for approximately 30 minutes.

Clearly we take the health and security of our students very seriously. Stacey Zucker, associate director of support services in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, said that they make sure they follow up and follow the regulations. She says the issue was dealt with at both colleges.

One Hamilton daycare is using bottled water while the emergency plumber handles the piping and hot water service repairs in one of its locations after status- and flushed-water tests demonstrated excessive lead levels. Today’s Family Early Learning and Child Care is having a filter in its Delta Adventure Camp website to wash fruit and toys. Kids do not drink the tap water in the camp, which is situated at Delta United Church in 47 Ottawa St. S.

CEO Marni Flaherty commented that they were completely on top of it. According to Flaherty, come up with recommendations and they will follow them. Over the last two decades, over 640 schools and daycares provincewide were found to have too much lead in their drinking water for both heating and cooling through yearly tests demanded by the 2007 provincial laws.

This is an important concern because lead is a toxic metal that especially affects fetuses and young children. Even low levels of exposure could lead to problems with intellectual development. The amount of failed tests is only expected to get worse as new rules about how samples are collected started coming into force in July.

Facility executives should always make sure that the elements in their buildings’ plumbing systems meet the local plumbing code requirements. However, with the increased concern over lead in drinking water, it may be helpful to know the sources of lead contamination and the particular demands of the various laws, regulations, and criteria associated with plumbing and lead systems.

Lead is a hazardous contaminant commonly found in plumbing systems of older houses and buildings with blocked plumbing and drains or a burst pipe. Occasionally newer buildings may also have a lead issue. There are 3 main resources:

  • Lead service lines linking the building plumbing systems into the public water supply system, which most often occur in buildings constructed before 1950
  • Lead solder used in aluminum piping systems, which mainly occurred before 1986
  • Lead-containing brass or galvanized pipes and fittings that are not certified to the NSF/ANSI 61: Drinking Water System Components-Health Effects standard

Additionally, products that don’t comply with the “lead-free” content demands of the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), effective January 1, 2014, could also serve as a source of lead.