Lead from old pipes hits home for MLAs

After Prince Rupert schools showed elevated lead levels in water, tests at the B.C. legislature showed similar results

The B.C. legislature

Independent MLA Vicki Huntington is hoping her tests showing high lead levels in B.C. legislature tap water will motivate the B.C. government to implement regular testing of older public buildings around the province.

Huntington released test results Tuesday showing that when sampled after sitting in pipes over a weekend, water from legislature taps contains about five times the federal and provincial safe level for lead.

Similar elevated levels were recently discovered in four schools in Prince Rupert, prompting a routine of running the water each morning to flush out the standing water.

Lead from solder can leach into water in areas where the water supply is more acidic. The provincial building code was changed in 1989 to eliminate the use of lead solder in plumbing.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall said flushing water pipes is the quickest way to deal with the problem, which has been known in coastal areas for more than 20 years.

Filters can also be installed, and schools in Prince Rupert are starting to add filter-equipped water fountains that cost about $300 each. A routine of flushing taps in northern schools was in place, but a reorganization of health units and staff turnover in the school district over the years likely led to the routine being lost.

The North Coast school situation was raised in the legislature in February by local MLA Jennifer Rice. The problem was rediscovered in a school experiment where salmon eggs failed to hatch.

The education ministry sent letters to all B.C. school superintendents Feb. 24, directing them to work with health authorities to establish a plan to evaluate water quality in schools, particularly those constructed before 1989.

Huntington said nervous system effects of exposure to high lead levels are a particular concern for young children, and prolonged exposure is a health risk for anyone.

“It is an issue for those who spend their careers in this building,” Huntington told reporters at the legislature. “And I think they deserve, just as parents deserve, to know that the drinking water is safe.”

Legislature speaker Linda Reid issued a statement Tuesday saying water systems are tested frequently and daily flushing of cold water taps is recommended. The legislature supplies filtered water to coolers in offices throughout the building.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mental Health: Fractured services leave community to fill gaps

Greater Victoria service providers working together to help youth

Bag containing meat, sewing needles found by dog owner in Cordova Bay

Saanich police don’t believe it’s a trend

UVic creates emergency bursary for students facing hardships due to COVID-19

Students can apply by emailing the financial aid office

Colwood Spring Clean-Up postponed, branch drop-off continues

Strict measures in place for branch drop-off

Saanich teen earns $100,000 commerce scholarship to the University of Calgary

Matias Totz is graduating from St. Michaels University School

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Most Read