Tuesday, February 16, 2016

School District 52 sends out advisory to parents over elevated lead levels in water at four local schools

A letter to parents issued by School District 52 on Tuesday is highlighting issues related to the discovery of elevated levels of lead found in water at a number of schools across the City.

The document to Parents and Guardians notes that water testing conducted by Northern Health and the School District  found levels of lead higher than Health Canada's recommended levels at four schools in the City, Conrad Elementary, Pineridge Elementary, École Roosevelt Park Community School and Prince Rupert Middle School.

Those schools were selected for the testing as they were built prior to 1989 when lead was commonly used in plumbing materials, the remainder of the Schools in the District are of newer construction and are not expected to be at risk for elevated levels of lead in the tap water.

Of those schools where samples were taken, 23 sample sites were included as part of the testing of various drinking water sources, including water fountains and classroom sinks, with the sample findings indicating that 48 per cent of the locations that were tested showed elevated levels of lead.

The School District also noted that the water in the City water main supply is tested regularly and has met the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality for lead.

Conrad Street Elementary School
is one of four school listed in a
SD52 Report on elevated lead levels
in the school water supply 
As for any potential health issues, information from the School District and Northern Health notes that any impact on health depends on a wide range of factors, but that there is no "good" amount of lead and that a case of long term exposure could impact growth and development in young children.

In their review for parents the report also added that physicians in the city have been notified of the test results and parents who may have concerns may wish to contact their physicians to discuss if any further testing or follow up may be necessary.

The School District reinforced its commitment to ensure that drinking water is safe for staff and students, outlining the steps that they have taken to this point to address the issue.

Included in their action plan is the implementation of a flushing program before the start of each school day, as well as the purchase and installation of new filtered water fountains, which the School District states have been tested and shown to effectively remove lead.  

As well Children and staff have been instructed to fill their water bottles from those filtered fountains or other designated sources.

You can review the full correspondence to parents here. Included in the letter to parents is a question and answer report on the issue, which also outlines steps that parents can take at home, with the assistance of Northern Health to address any concerns that they may have about their home water consumption.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice spoke out on the issue late in the day on Tuesday, issuing a statement that called for testing for lead exposure in the schools in other communities of the Northwest, the Central Coast and Haida Gwaii.

The MLA added that she would be raising the issue with the Provincial Government, looking to find answers as to why parents don't know what level of lead their children have been exposed to and for how long.

The City of Prince Rupert has yet to issue any statements providing background on the topic from its point of view, or to outline what participation, if any, that it had in the review of the water issues found at the local schools.

For more items related to School District issues see our archive page here.

Update: Wednesday afternoon the City of Prince Rupert released a statement of reassurance on the standards associated to the city's water supply.

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