News Feature | June 4, 2014

Toronto Has A Big Lead Problem

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


A new study revealed high lead levels in Toronto's tap water. 

"Toronto's public works chair is telling residents to get their tap water tested if they don't feel comfortable consuming it in light of a report that is raising concerns about unsafe levels of lead," CP24 reported

Thirteen percent of water tests in the city over a six year period have indicated dangerous levels of lead, according to the Toronto Star, which cited city data. The newspaper published an interactive map depicting the most problematic areas. 

The city took about 15,000 samples from Toronto faucets starting in 2008, according to CTV News. Officials maintain that "the drinking water is continuously tested during and after treatment, and the problem rests with lead water service pipes that supply homes built before the mid-1950s. The city recommends homeowners replace the lead pipes," CP24 reported. 

Policymakers diverged on how much of a concern this discovery is. 

Toronto City Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong "said that his staff has assured him the city's water is safe for consumption," CTV News reported. 

Councillor Janet Davis seemed to see the matter as more urgent. Her area had a failure rate as high as 16 percent. 

“We’ve sat on our hands since 2008, when we knew the health impacts of lead in water,” Davis said in to Toronto News Service. “That’s unacceptable. I think the city has to be more accountable and take greater responsibility for replacement of all the pipes that contain lead. It’s a public health issue and we need to ensure accountability on council for providing that."

The discovery could be costly for the city and for residents. "It’s estimated that about 40,000 homes in the city still have lead pipes and the cost to have your pipes upgraded is about $3,000 per home," AM640 reported

"Boiling water won’t remove lead," Global News reminded residents. "However, you can “flush” your pipes: Run the water until it’s cold and let it run for another minute."

Image credit: "toronto," paul bica © 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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