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

RCMP volunteers sought for Vernon, Lumby

Core classroom training set to begin this spring

$55K consultation fees for Vernon to dump effluent in lake

Savings from pumping reclaimed water to reservoir to cover costs

Stinky situation for some in Vernon

Unexpected issue disrupted Thursday’s garbage service, Saturday pickup scheduled

Armstrong Kin Club celebrates 100

All-Canadian service club gives back to communities from coast to coast

Vernon firefighters respond to car fire

No smoke or visible flames seen in Bella Vista Road incident

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Gas drops below a dollar per litre in Penticton

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Pawsative Pups: You have a new puppy, now what?

Lisa Davies is a new columnist for Black Press who writes about dog training

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

Sewer service planned for South Okanagan community of Kaleden

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen plans to extend Okanagan Falls system into Kaleden

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Mitchell’s Musings: Modern language is a work in progress

Communication requires more critical thinking from listeners

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Most Read