Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

High lead levels in 2% of homes

Published on

Troy Shantz and George Mathewson

About 40 of 2,000 Sarnia homes and businesses tested in the first year of a three-year program had lead in their tap water above the Ontario drinking water standard.

And that result is surprisingly good news, says the city’s public works superintendent.

“We’re finding 2%, which is very low and very encouraging,” Al Fraser said. “It makes it realistic to be able to remove all the lead. That’s our ultimate goal.”

The goal is to sample 8,000 homes and businesses built before the 1960s in the city’s older part. The “lead zone” is an area roughly bounded by Murphy Road, Highway 402, the St. Clair River and St. Andrew Street, to the south.

Once a homeowner books a free visit, a city team will arrive to visually assess the internal plumbing and take a water sample.

If the lab result show elevated lead levels, a second test is scheduled, Fraser said.

Tap water with lead levels above the Ontario limit of 10 ug/L should have a filter, which is provided by the city, Fraser said.

To eliminate the lead permanently, the smaller underground pipe bringing water into the building, known as the service line, will need to be replaced, he added.

The city covers the cost of replacement up to the property line, but the owner foots the bill for the remaining pipe into the home or business.

To help, the city is offering a $2,000 no-interest loan, Fraser said.

Lead is a neurotoxin that builds up in soft tissues and can, in high concentrations, damage the nervous system and cause neurological disorders, behaviour problems and brain damage.

The risk is greatest for small children, pregnant women, and women planning to become pregnant.

No health problems have been associated with the elevated lead found in the 40 confirmed homes, Fraser added.

The next round of testing resumes in May.

For more, visit the City of Sarnia website. Residents with questions can call 519-332-0330, ext. 2232, or email [email protected].

More like this