Before the 1950s, the predominant material used within water transportation pipes was lead. We have since learned that lead in lead pipes can leach into water supplies through fittings and elements such as brass faucets.
While the vast majority of water transportation infrastructure across Canada no longer utilizes lead, those in older homes may find they still have problems related to lead in their drinking water.
Let’s take a closer look at the impact that lead can have within water supplies:
Lead Can Enter the Water Supply through Plumbing
Over time, older lead pipes may corrode, causing microscopic amounts to leach into the drinking water through a home’s taps. The corrosion of soldering elements, brass fixtures and faucets and water supply fittings can also be a leading cause of lead in drinking water.
The actual amount of lead within the water is related to various factors, including:
- How long the water stays in the pipes
- The amount of corrosion
- The water’s acidity and its temperature
How can Lead Affect my Family?
For the vast majority of Canadians, lead within drinking water is highly unlikely, as new plumbing infrastructure and new piping systems are designed to prevent lead entering through the pipes.
However, homes built as recently as 1979 may have some form of lead piping and therefore homeowners should be aware of the impact lead can have on their home.
The dangers of lead in drinking water include the following:
Lead can impact children’s behaviour
A recent CDC report showed that even a small amount of lead can have harmful effects on a child’s behaviour. It can also cause significant learning difficulties for children. Children are often more affected by lead in drinking water than adults.
The cumulative effect of lead exposure causes a range of diseases
In adults, problems such as kidney disease and nervous system disorders can be caused by the cumulative impact of lead build-up in the body. While one instance of lead exposure is unlikely to have a lasting impact, the impact from several years of lead exposure could have devastating health effects on adults across Canada.
Testing is Critical for Safety
For those living within older homes across the region, it’s important to review drinking water to ensure no toxic lead elements are making their way into the water supplies. Toronto residents can contact city officials at 311 to pre-register for a testing kit. There are facilities throughout the city offering testing kits directly to residents.
Proactive, cautionary measures are required if you live in an older home and suspect the property may have lead piping. Contact your local public health department directly to learn more on the issue and to order a testing kit for your property.