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Scarily High Lead Levels Are Contaminating Thousands Of Ontario Schools’ Water

It seems the province’s drinking water has some pretty frightening contamination. A report released on November 5 shows thatOntario water lead levels are higher than advised in some 2,400 schools and daycares. That’s an alarming increase of 275%.

120 journalists from nine universities and 10 media organizations across Canada conducted a study testing water samples, and the results were certainly concerning.

And, in Ontario, things are pretty bad. Through a collaboration between Global News, Toronto Star, and Concordia and Ryerson universities, over 2,400 Ontario schools and daycares have been found with a higher amount of lead in their drinking water than the current federal guideline advises. That’s an increase of 275% over two years.

According to the study, undertaken between April 2016 and March 2018, almost a third of all schools and daycares in this province had at least one lead test result that came out pretty high. In total, 9% of all lead tests in schools and daycares exceeded the national guideline.

In fact, the trend is so concerning that it’s not even possible to check the lead levels in the drinking water of individual schools and child daycare centres across the province here.

The scariest part? Around two dozen provincial schools and daycares reported samples higher than 1,000 parts per billion, reports Global. Experts say that levels above that threshold can immediately impact blood-lead levels in a child.

That’s pretty frightening to read.

Part of the problem is that Ontario’s overdue school repairs total a cost of nearly $16 billion, per the Toronto Star.

“For the 2018-19 school year, school boards were allocated $1.4 billion in renewal funding from the Ministry of Education to renew Ontario schools and ensure that major repair and replacement work can be undertaken, which could include replacement of plumbing systems and fixtures,” Sandra Zeni of the office of the Ministry of Education told Narcity. 

Zeni shares that for the current school year, the Ministry of Education is providing an additional $1.4 billion in funding.

The negative effects of exposure to too much lead can include high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease in adults, and neurological and behavioural problems and lower intelligence in children.

“Our government takes the health and safety of all Ontarians, especially our children, very seriously. We have a comprehensive drinking water protection framework in place that safeguards Ontario’s drinking water, from source to tap,” Andrew Buttigieg of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation & Parks, told Narcity.

“Over 99% of municipal residential drinking water systems met Ontario’s drinking water standards. Over 95% of schools and child centers, with over 87,000 test results, met Ontario’s standard for lead in drinking water,” he noted.

According to Global News, in March 2019, Health Canada had recommended that 5 ppb be the maximum acceptable limit for lead concentration in drinking water.

It’s surprising to note that the provincial recommendation in Ontario stands at 10. 

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