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Unsafe amounts of lead in Toronto tap water: report

Is your drinking water safe? According to a report in the Toronto Star it may not be.

City data obtained by the Star showed 13 per cent of Toronto homes tested for lead in drinking water had higher-than-acceptable levels.

Data was compiled from 15,000 samples collected from water taps between 2008 and 2014. The tests were then submitted to the city for analysis.

Tests show around 2,000 households far exceeded Health Canada’s acceptable lead concentration in drinking water of 10 parts per billion.

Lead in tap water is attributed to aging pipes, which are found in both city and private property. Also, both are costly to replace.

Older neighbourhoods like High Park, Lawrence Park, south Annex and areas of East York have the largest concentration of high lead levels.

Coun. Janet Davis, whose Beaches-East York ward had a failure rate of 16 per cent, told the newspaper that the city “has to be more accountable and take greater responsibility for replacement of all the pipes that contain lead.”

She also said it’s a public health issue.

In 2007, the city approved $236-million to replace city-owned lead pipes connected to 65,000 homes.

The medical community argues there is no safe lead level in drinking water.

Lead can affect the brain and nervous system, and is most dangerous for fetuses and children under the age of six. Symptoms in children can include shortened attention spans and
behavioural problems, while adults can experience hypertension and kidney failure.

If you have any questions about exposure to lead from your tap water, contact Toronto Health Connections at 416-338-7600 or on City of Toronto website.

Click here for public health department’s FAQ on lead pipes and tap water.