Is That Lead You're Drinking?

Is That Lead You're Drinking? bb3 Mar 21, 2014

By Staff Writer

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Your drinking water may not be as safe as you think. Despite the establishment of the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, lead pipes in your home could cause problems. Corrosion in the plumbing and water-supply system can leak lead into your tap water, exposing your family to potential health risks every time they take a drink.

Test your water for lead

Know the Risks

Lead can affect family members differently depending on their age and development. Children and pregnant women are most at risk.

  • Infants: delays in physical and mental abilities
  • Children: brain and nervous system damage, behavioural and learning problems, lower IQ, issues with hearing, slowed growth and anemia
  • Adults: nervous system impairment, high blood pressure, hypertension, kidney problems and reproductive issues

Test Your Water

You can’t see, smell or taste lead, so how do you spot it? The answer: regular testing. If your home was built before 1990, there is a greater risk that your plumbing contains lead.

Some cities and municipalities have a sampling program that will test your water, but others require you to arrange testing through a certified lab. Contact the Standards Council of Canada or the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation to find an accredited lab near you.

Take Precautions

If your water tests positive for lead, you can help reduce risks in the short- and long-term.

  • Flush your pipes every morning by running your tap for five minutes.
  • Run the cold water — it has lower levels of lead than warm water.
  • Drink bottled or distilled water.
  • Use a filter certified to remove lead.
  • Replace lead pipes.

Also be sure to visit your doctor to make sure no one in your family has high levels of lead in their system.

If you have questions about your drinking water, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline is accessible to Canadian residents. Visit the website or call 1-800-426-4791.