The Prince Rupert School District has notified parents after elevated levels of lead were found in the tap water at four schools.
The district says tests of drinking water revealed lead concentrations higher than Health Canada recommended levels at Conrad Elementary, Pineridge Elementary, Ecole Roosevelt Park Community School and Prince Rupert Middle School, although exact levels were not revealed.
The source of the lead contamination has been traced to the lead in pipes and other plumbing components. The district says water in the city’s mains is tested regularly and has met Canadian drinking water guidelines for lead.
School District 52 says it’s committed to ensuring that drinking water for students and staff is safe and that it is working with Northern Health to address the issue.
Officials say water flushing will take place before each school day. Similar programs have been shown to reduce lead levels at the tap. The district is also installing new filtered water fountains that remove lead where students and staff will be directed to fill up water bottles.
North Coast NDP MLA Jennifer Rice says she is deeply concerned with the discovery of elevated lead levels in the water.
“Children are very vulnerable to lead exposure, and the levels found in school drinking water exceeded Health Canada guidelines,” says Rice in a statement issued Tuesday.
“It is extremely troubling that we don’t know what level of lead children have been exposed to and for how long. These are questions I will be taking to our provincial government.”
In light of the findings, Rice is calling for testing of water at older schools in the Northwest, Central Coast, and Haida Gwaii schools.
It’s not the first time elevated levels of lead have been detected in northwest area schools. Four Kitimat schools were found to have elevated lead and copper levels in 2012.
School District 52 has issued a question and answer document for parents, students, and staff at the affected schools.