Lead contamination in Toronto’s tap water

Researchers have extensively studied the toxic metal and linked it to a range of adverse health effects, especially in children and infants where “the physical and behavioral effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Within this vulnerable population exposure has been connected to learning disabilities, slowed growth, behavioural problems and anemia.

Data retrieved from testing samples shows that only one region of the city has lead concentrations exceeding the maximum acceptable limit set by the Ministry of Environment. That threshold is 10 parts per billion (ppb), and the average reading from the Danforth area was nearly double: 19.4 ppb. 28 samples were analyzed from the region bounded by Don Mills Road and the GO rail tracks to the north and south, and Pape and Coxwell Avenues to the west and east.

Water Concentration

Prior to the mid-1950s, water pipes servicing homes were typically made of the soft metal. It was also used to solder pipes together before 1990. In 2011 Toronto’s city council approved the Lead in Drinking Water Mitigation Strategy aimed at lowering exposure levels for residents.

It’s important to note that the city’s lead testing program is non-regulated, and staff have little control over how or where a sample is obtained. Testing kits can be picked up and dropped off by residents, free of charge, at one of six Toronto Public Health locations across the city.