Elevated lead levels have been found in the drinking water at two Bulkley Valley School District buildings in Smithers and Houston.

Lead levels too high in Bulkley Valley school drinking water

Tests have found too much lead in the drinking water at Twain Sullivan Elementary in Houston, B.C.

Twain Sullivan Elementary in Houston is the latest northwest B.C. school to test positive for excessive lead in its drinking water, after elevated levels of the heavy metal were detected at four schools in Prince Rupert in February.

Testing completed in mid-March showed drinking water at Twain Sullivan contained lead levels of 0.0109 milligrams per litre, which is higher than Health Canada’s maximum acceptable limit of 0.010 mg/l (10 parts per billion).

The Bulkley Valley School District 54 (BVSD) school board building in Smithers has also tested positive for elevated lead levels.

School district employees were notified this morning and letters will be sent home to parents this afternoon.

Although the BVSD received the results in early April, secretary treasurer Dave Margerm said staff and parents were not warned immediately because some of the initial testing was inconclusive.

“After the next battery of tests show more lead or equal amounts, or inconsistent amounts, we would then advise the employees and the parents, which was done today,” he said.

Margerm said the school district also started flushing the pipes at problem buildings every morning after the lead was detected. Further testing of post-flushing tests is ongoing, he added.

Flushing is used to remove lead that could have collected in pipes built with lead solder, which was allowed to be used in B.C. until 1989.

A follow-up test after flushing at Twain Sullivan reported 0.0044 mg/l from the same water source, which is within Canadian guidelines, but Margerm said the results had been inconsistent.

“We ran multiple tests and some tests of the same source of water show over, and the next time they showed under, so there’s several inconsistencies in the system at Twain,” he said.

“That is why we are doing multiple tests to try and come up with whether there is an issue, just to be sure before we plan for what we are going to do in the future.

“That being said, there is traces of lead in the water so we have to deal with that.”

Margerm said the school district did regular water quality testing at its buildings, but the latest round of testing in March had been ordered by the Ministry of Education, via the Provincial Health Officer.

He believed it was in response to the lead found in drinking water at four Prince Rupert schools in February.

Elevated lead and copper levels were also detected at four schools in Kitimat in 2012.

Margerm said Twain Sullivan’s drinking water had been within the Canadian guidelines for lead last time it was tested, some time between 2008 and 2012.

According to Health Canada, even small amounts of lead can be dangerous to children, infants and pregnant women.

Long-term exposure to lead can also increase the risk of damage to the nervous system or kidneys, increased blood pressure and anemia, among other health effects.

Read the full story, including more from Northern Health and Health Minister Terry Lake, in the April 27 edition of The Interior News.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

14 arrested at blocked rail line in northern B.C., police say

But a Gitxsan hereditary chief says 14 were arrested, as fight over natural gas pipeline continues

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs call for end of police patrols

Temporary closure of field office not enough to meet demands

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

CGL must revise impact assessment on Unist’ot’en Healing Center

Environmental Assessment Office not satisfied with report’s shortcomings

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Two B.C. men plead guilty to bus-terminal assault of man with autism in Ontario

Parmvir Chahil and Jaspaul Uppal due to be sentenced in June for aggravated assault

Most Read