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Water quality tests data shows elevated lead levels in Toronto homes | Toronto Star

Councillor Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence), a mayoral candidate whose riding had an 18-per-cent failure rate on nearly 1,000 tests, said financial incentives for homeowners who want to replace their lead pipes is worth consideration.
“If that’s the reason people aren’t replacing the pipes, then I think we have an obligation to look at that,” she said. “People expect that when they turn on their taps, the water is safe to drink. It’s a reasonable expectation and one we need to make sure we deliver on.”
Other Canadian cities offer incentives or loans to lead-laden homeowners to replace their pipes. Saskatoon has a cost-share program with the homeowner’s portion added to the property tax bill. Hamilton and London offer loans with repayment over 10 years. In Brantford, homeowners apply for a $1,000 grant.
In Toronto, the focus has been on a new technology to decrease corrosion in pipes so as to lower lead levels, said Di Gironimo.
But the problem is ultimately only solved with replacement of all lead pipes, he said. “I still support full lead replacement.”

The data, drawn from the 15,000 samples, was collected by Torontonians from their water taps and submitted to the city for analysis between 2008 and 2014.
This first ever detailed analysis of the test results by neighbourhood (see full set of results by postal code at places the vast majority of failures in aging residential areas of the city where infrastructure is old and real estate values are typically high.
The largest concentration of dangerously high lead levels are in High Park, the Lawrence Park neighbourhood centred on Lawrence Ave. and Yonge St., the downtown south Annex and sections of East York.
“We’ve sat on our hands since 2008, when we knew the health impacts of lead in water,” says Councillor Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York), whose ward has a failure rate of 16 per cent in more than 1,000 tests.
Getting the lead out
The test results obtained by the Star are from water samples drawn from taps and collected into city-issued containers available free at Toronto Public Health offices. The test kits advise residents to flush pipes for five minutes before collecting the sample.
Step 1: If you live in a home built before the mid-1950s or are concerned about lead in your water, the city recommends having a free test done on your tap water.
Call 311 to register for the test, then pick up a test kit from one of six Toronto Public Health offices in the city (see map).
Step 2: Following the instructions, collect a water sample from your home tap and return it to the Toronto Public Health office for analysis. Staff from Toronto Water will provide the results by phone within a few weeks.
Step 3: If the result exceeds 10 parts per billion, your lead level exceeds the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standard. The city recommends replacing your lead service pipes on both sides of the property line, especially if there is a child under the age of 6 or a pregnant woman in the house. In the meantime, the city recommends installing a water filter certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (
Step 4: Hire a private contractor to replace your side of the water service (typically costing about $3,000) and submit an application to have the city-owned portion of your water service replaced within eight to 10 weeks. It is essential that pipes on both sides of your property line are replaced. You can also consult the city’s contractor about having both sides of the pipes replaced at the same time. Several independent quotes for the job are recommended.
Other tips for those with high lead levels:

  • Breastfeed babies instead of using tap water.

  • Flush your water every morning and afternoon until it runs cold.

  • Use cold water for cooking and drinking.

  • Sources / More info: Water quality tests data shows elevated lead levels in Toronto homes | Toronto Star


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