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Flush Water Pipes to Reduce Lead Contamination Risk, Schools Told

water from the main.

Water taken from city hydrants all tested within acceptable levels, indicating that the lead is coming either from connecting pipes or lead solder inside the home. The city has been replacing about 3,500 lead pipes per year, at a cost of about $7 million.

Ownership of connecting lines is split between city and homeowner, as is the cost of replacing them. Homeowners can ask the city contractor to replace their portion of the line, or get their own contractor. Typically, it costs $1,000 to $2,500, depending on the length of pipe. Davis said the city also needs to do more testing of apartments.

Lou Di Gironimo, general manager of Toronto Water, said information about lead in multi-unit buildings is hard to come by, because the city doesn't know what types of pipe the builders installed. "If it's a newer condominium, you wouldn't be worried ... If it's an older one, you can talk to your property-management company." For now, the biggest concern is lead exposure in places populated by children and mothers-to-be, for whom it can be especially harmful. In children under 6, it can delay physical and mental development and spark slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. In adults, side effects include kidney problems or high blood pressure. Previously, schools and daycares were expected to flush their pipes once weekly.

Health Minister George Smitherman noted there's a new program to help low-income pregnant women and parents in older neighbourhoods buy water filters. Those rated to an NSF 53 standard, such as some types of Brita filters, can reduce lead, Smith said. But the province came under criticism from NDP MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth), who said the danger of lead pipes has been well known for years. "Frankly, they should have addressed it years ago. In 2002, Justice (Dennis) O'Connor noted in the Walkerton report (into the 2000 E.coli contamination tragedy th
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