A report from Global News shows that nearly one-third of all Ontario schools and daycares exceeded the federal maximum acceptable lead concentration in their drinking water between April 2016 and March 2018.
The report was released through a collaboration betwee Global News, The Toronto Star, Ryerson School of Journalism and Concordia Univerity's Institute.
In March 2019, Health Canada recommended 5 ppb as the maximum acceptable limit for lead concentration in drinking water. The provincial recommendation in Ontario remains at 10 ppb.
The investigation reveals in total, 9% of all lead tests in schools and daycares exceeded the national guideline. Moreover, around two dozen provincial schools and daycares reported samples higher than 1,000 parts per billion. Experts warn such high lead level can immediately impact blood-lead levels in a child, and action should be taken to prevent children from drinking water at taps in this case.
The main source of lead in drinking water in schools is generally internal plumbing fixtures and fountains that contain traces of the neurotoxin. But to replace the infrastructure would be very costly.
To address the risk, some schools in the York Catholic District School Board, Halton Catholic District School Board and Central Park YMCA have started applying bottled water dispensers and installing water filtration systems.