The Peel District School Board (PDSB) has some reassuring news for parents and students following the release of a concerning report about high levels of lead in drinking water in Ontario schools and daycares.
According to a report from Global News, the drinking water in thousands of schools and daycares in Ontario has been found to contain dangerous levels of lead.
While the news is concerning, the PDSB (which oversees schools in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon) says that the board’s test results shared in the study are from the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years, and have already been resolved.
“All of our elementary and secondary schools are currently in compliance with the requirements of Ontario’s Safe Drinking Water Act,” the PDSB said in a statement.
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The study, which was a collaboration between Global News, The Toronto Star, the Ryerson School of Journalism and Concordia University’s Institute for Investigative Journalism, found that more than 2,400 schools and daycares exceeded the federal guidelines for safe amounts of lead in drinking water.
The study tested multiple water samples from schools and daycares across the province from 2016 to 2018.
While Ontario lists 10 parts per billion (ppb) as the maximum amount of lead in drinking water that is still safe to consume, Health Canada has listed the maximum amount of lead in drinking water to safely consume at 5 ppb.
According to the findings, nearly a third–29 per cent–of schools and daycares had at least one sample with lead levels that exceeded the maximum level that is safe to consume.
The PDSB says it has done its part to ensure its staff and students are consuming safe drinking water.
“The health and safety of our school communities is always a top priority, which is why we are thorough and diligent in our testing of lead in water sources,” the board says.
The PDSB says that each year, from May to October, it conducts tests in Peel schools to ensure that water for drinking and cooking is safe for students, staff and visitors.
“If flushed lead levels exceed provincial standards of 10 parts per billion (ppb), the fountain or tap is taken out of service immediately, and corrective actions are taken to resolve the issue,” the board says.
“Please know that we will never return a fixture to service until its lead levels meet provincial requirements.”
The board says that schools with lead levels above the provincial standard will inform families by sending home a letter or broadcast message. Parents who do not receive a letter or bulletin can rest easy knowing their child’s school’s lead levels did not exceed provincial requirements.
Parents, staff and students can review their school’s lead test results by visiting their school office.
In the report, The Peel District School Board had 773 schools with samples with elevated levels of lead, the most of any school board in the province.
You can see the list of affected facilities by clicking here.
Some affected schools and daycares include Morning Star Middle School, Streetsville Secondary School, Erin Mills Middle School, Meadowvale Secondary School, Clarkson Secondary School, Mineola Public School, Applewood Heights Secondary School, Hillcrest Public School, Gordon Graydon Memorial Secondary School, Tiny Treasure Mississauga Daycare, Cawthra Park Secondary School and others.
According to the PDSB, any excess lead in the water at the aforementioned schools has been dealt with accordingly.
“We take a proactive approach to testing and will always follow all provincial reporting requirements and corrective actions to ensure safe water in schools. We’re proud to share the Peel board has already completed mandatory testing at all elementary schools, and completed the majority of testing at all secondary schools—two years in advance of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks deadline in Ontario Regulation 243/07,” the board says.
“As we are ahead of schedule for mandatory lead testing, it may seem that we have more lead exceedences than other school boards. However, in most cases, we have completed more tests and have more facilities than other boards. As percentages, for the 2017-18 school year, our lead test scores were on par or better than the provincial average.”
To learn more about water testing in Peel schools, click here.
“We continue to be committed to providing safe, healthy learning environments for all students, staff and visitors. As always, if you have any concerns about your child’s safety at school, please contact your principal directly,” the board says.