Water worries at Brigden Public School


Young students and pregnant women are being given bottled water at Brigden Public School after a rare finding of lead in the water.

Theresa Warren, a public health inspector with Lambton Public Health, says schools and daycares test their tap water at the end of each school year under Ontario Safe Drinking Water Act. Over the years, she says, there have been few problems.

But this year, when Brigden Public School officials sent their samples into the lab “the lead concentration in the water is higher than the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standard of 10 micrograms per liter or less,” she wrote in a letter to parents.

Warren says schools regularly flush their water pipes once a week and older schools, such as Brigden, turn the water on daily for five minutes before students arrive to make sure there is fresh clean water available. “In this case, the lead levels were in the water which had been flushed,” says Warren.

She says more water has been taken and results of the second round of testing are expected this week. “Maybe they didn’t flush properly or maybe it was a lab’s error,” she says.

Lambton-Kent District School Board Director of Education Jim Costello says a positive test for lead is “pretty rare. This is only the first one we’ve had in Brigden in a few years.”

Public Health and the board took action immediately, bringing bottled water to the school and posting notices and sending letters to parents saying young children and pregnant women should not use the tap water until the results of the second round of tests are know. “Student safety is paramount here,” says Costello.

And he says whatever the results of the tests, the board will take appropriate action, although he has not hear of a school having to replace its plumbing because of lead problems. “If we had a place that had continued problems, with both standing and flushed water, we’d do something about it,” he says.

Meantime, Warren says parents should know it is unlikely the lead in the water would lead to health problems in children. “Lead in water is a very small amount of exposure to child,” she told The Independent. “There are very few reported cases of lead poisoning in Canada…there are so many ways children can be exposed to lead.”