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Lead testing of school water systems

Limestone Learning Foundation
Lead testing of school water systems
Posted on 11/06/2019
Image of a faucet with running water.

Recently, some media organizations have released a report on water quality across the province including results for Ontario schools. The report identifies the number and percentage of tests for lead in comparison to Health Canada recommendations.

This data is not current. Furthermore, all of our schools and sites are in compliance with the requirements of Ontario’s Safe Drinking Water Act.

Provincial law requires water used for drinking or cooking to contain no more than 10 parts per billion (ppb) of lead. Typically, lead can leach from older water mains, piping or water fixtures. Lead testing is a requirement in schools because young children are more vulnerable to the effects of lead.

New government regulations came into effect in October 2017 requiring lead testing for all fixtures used to provide drinking water and/or prepare food or drink at schools and day cares in Ontario. Schools in the Limestone District School Board have been regularly testing and flushing drinking water for the presence of lead since 2007.

In March 2019, Health Canada recommended 5ppb as the maximum acceptable limit for lead concentration in drinking water, however, the provincial recommendation in Ontario (which governs schools in Ontario) remains at 10ppb. Should a school exceed the recommended 10ppb, the local Medical Officer of Health is notified, and corrective actions are taken which includes daily flushing of the water system. In Limestone, routine flushing is completed weekly as a matter of practice, and has been since 2007. Schools will also communicate this information with students (families) and staff.

It’s also important to note that students and staff do not drink from taps/fixtures if they are marked for hand washing only. All of our schools have water-filling stations for drinking water. Signs have been placed at each fixture to indicate if a fixture is NOT safe for drinking and/or preparing food or drink but handwashing only.

More information is available on our website.

The Limestone District School Board is situated on traditional territories of the Anishinaabe & Haudenosaunee.