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Information for parents: Testing for lead levels in school drinking water

November 7, 2019


Information for parents/guardians regarding the strict and comprehensive testing for lead levels in drinking water that happens at all Upper Grand District School Board schools.

The school board has been testing lead levels in school drinking water since 2007. The Ontario government requires that child care centres and schools flush the plumbing in their facilities and test drinking water for lead. New amendments to the provincial regulation took effect in 2017 that require lead testing within these facilities for all designated fixtures used to provide drinking water and/or prepare food or drink for children under 18.

It is important to note that a recent national investigation surveyed lead levels across Canada at the federal level of 5 ppb. Schools fall under provincial regulations, not federal.  Under Ontario Regulation 243/07, the limit for lead in drinking water is 10 ppb.

The UGDSB has strict testing protocols that operate in accordance with provincial legislation. UGDSB staff are extremely diligent and follow the required procedures to the letter.

If an exceedance is found in a school, corrective action is taken immediately.

Corrective action may involve taking the fixture out of service, increasing flushing, installing a NSF filter, or permanently rendering the fixture unusable. Fixtures with an exceedance in the flushed sample are either bagged or disconnected, and a ‘Handwashing Only’ sign is posted until the issue is resolved, so no one can use them for consumption. In most situations, fixtures are replaced and then re-tested.

Each year, the board shares testing information with all schools and information on where to find the results. The results for each school are posted on school websites and the board website: https://www.ugdsb.ca/programs/environment/water-testing-for-lead/.

Information on the provincial rules for schools and child care centres can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/flushing-and-sampling-lead   

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