The story of lead contamination in Canadian cities so far

By now most people have seen the recent The Star and Global articles about lead contamination in several major Canadian city’s water. Long story short: 12,000 water samples taken across 11 major cities showed that 33% of the samples contained lead concentrations that exceeded the federal guideline of 5 parts per billion. Saskatoon exceeded acceptable levels in 584 samples (84.6% exceedance rate). Those numbers may sound alarming, but keep in mind that the investigation was purposely “Targeting high-risk neighbourhoods with older homes“. Still, a great revelation and potentially something to take seriously.

Am I at Risk?

Newer homes, and newer areas, are very low-risk, as lead has been phased out of plumbing materials since early-to-mid 1900’s. The City of Saskatoon has map showing the number of lead serviced properties in each of the city’s areas, and it can be found here. The City of Saskatoon is aware of the issue, and has a detailed strategy to remove all lead service by the year 2026. It accelerated this plan in 2017, but for now the best way to actually know if you have lead in your tap water is to actually have a sample tested.

How can I Know?

So how can you actually have water samples tested? The Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory in Regina is your best bet. They provide public water sampling at very reasonable rates. They require a one litre sample to be mailed along with accompanying paperwork and fee payment, which for lead is $23 plus your postage.  The access page and phone number can be found here.

Stay tuned for the second part of this blog post where we talk about the affects of lead, and what you can do if you’ve been exposed.

By: Dr. Kahlen Pihowich, ND

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