News Feature | May 10, 2023

Journalists Reveal 90% Of Canadian Water Systems Still Use Asbestos-Based Pipelines

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga


Journalists have uncovered startlingly outdated infrastructure issues in Canadian water systems that are raising health concerns for consumers.

“[There are] many towns, districts and municipalities in Canada where drinking water is still flowing through asbestos cement pipes, an investigative report by a national broadcaster has found,” SaltWire reported. “W5 said it checked with more than 100 towns, districts and municipalities in the country and 90% of them do have asbestos pipes.”

Drinking water that has traveled through asbestos-based pipelines has been demonstrated to introduce the contaminant into the bodies of consumers and some health experts fear this can cause acute health issues, including cancer. But, in response to the investigation, Canadian health authorities have pointed out that it’s not clear that asbestos-based pipes are certainly dangerous for consumers.

“Health Canada maintains there is no consistent evidence drinking or ingesting asbestos is harmful so there is currently no maximum limit that can be in Canadian water,” according to CTV News. “And with no maximum limit, the agency said, there was no need for testing.”

Still, the revelation has made many Canadian residents concerned about what they are drinking.

“Barbara Syme of Sault Ste. Marie reached out to the local public utility to ask if Sault Ste. Marie was among the communities that still use the asbestos-cement pipes for its water mains,” per SooToday. “‘I am not sure I quite trust the science that is saying it isn’t hazardous at certain levels — especially when you are talking about ingesting it into the body,’ she said.”

As with the lead-based infrastructure throughout the U.S., replacing these outdated pipelines is still a work in progress, despite their prevalence, outdated nature, and consumer concerns. As other priorities seem to occupy the resources of water systems around the world, hopefully Canada’s officials are right about the lack of asbestos-driven health issues being caused by their drinking water.

To read more about how water systems update their buried infrastructure, visit Water Online’s Asset Management Solutions Center.