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

Area residents concerned about aftermath of McKenzie interchange construction

Ministry says neighbours’ concerns being heard, will be addressed

West Shore’s 10 worst intersections for crashes in 2019

Millstream Road, Veterans Memorial Parkway area continues to be a hotspot

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Saanich council seeks more information after hearing Uptown-Douglas plan

Council asks for further reports on economic, housing, transportation plans for corridor

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

DFO says five aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Man arrested after stabbing incident at makeshift camp near Vancouver Island mall

RCMP in Parksville report 28-year-old man taken into custody without incident

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Pitt Meadows woman gives birth on in-laws’ driveway

Frédérique Gagnon new son is appropriately named after Norse trickster god

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

VIDEO: B.C. community rallies to save snared eagle

Revelstoke climber scales tree to save the raptor

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Most Read