Calgary hospital staff asked to drink bottled water, flush taps amid lead testing
CALGARY – Alberta Health Services says it’s testing drinking water quality in some staff areas within the McCaig Tower at Foothills Medical Centre to ensure it is safe for consumption.
“While the water in the staff areas…is within Canadian Drinking Water Standards, an issue with mineral levels and turbidity has been identified,” a spokesperson for AHS said in a statement to Global News.
Scroll down to read the full Alberta Health Services statement
According to AHS, there are no concerns with the quality of drinking water being supplied to patients, but bottled water is being provided to staff. Notices have been posted on staff faucets asking that users flush taps for one minute prior to drinking.
In a Dec. 31 internal memo to managers of clinical and support services within the McCaig Tower, site director Michael Suddes said the drinking water supply in staff lounges for the third, fourth, fifth and sixth floor of the McCaig Tower was tested after staff raised concerns about the water’s taste and smell.
“Thirty second flush testing results have all proved to be within normal limits but stagnant water has indicated higher than normal limits for lead, aluminum and zinc.”
Scroll down to read the full internal memo
The memo goes on to say that according to the AHS environmental public health team, no other action is required regarding the health of staff drinking from this water supply. It said pregnant women may want to consider further testing.
“Pregnant women who have consumed one to two litres per working day over several years from this source should consider discussing blood tests with their family physician.”
The McCaig Tower is one of the Foothills Medical Centre’s newest buildings. The surgical tower opened to the public in Oct. 2010 and is mainly used to provide orthopedic surgery and post-operative care.
Full statement from AHS:
AHS is testing drinking water quality in some staff areas at McCaig Tower at Foothills Medical Centre to ensure it is safe for consumption and resolve any concerns. There are no concerns with the quality of drinking water being supplied to patients.
While the water in the staff areas referenced above is within Canadian Drinking Water Standards, an issue with mineral levels and turbidity of the water has been identified. Turbidity is cloudiness in water caused by a suspension of small or microscopic particles.
Maintenance and Engineering staff are working to identify the cause of the elevated mineral levels in order to identify a solution.
All tests have been negative for all bacteria. Drinking water testing on all other floors of McCaig Tower has produced results within normal limits. These tests are a precaution to help ensure the safety of our staff and physicians. Water in other areas of the hospital continues to be safe for staff, physicians and patients and families. The concerns are limited to specific staff areas of the hospital. Each building at Foothills Medical Centre has a separate water system.
AHS is currently providing bottled water and advising staff to flush taps for one minute prior to drinking water in some staff areas at Foothills Hospital’s McCaig Tower.
Full memo to Foothills Medical Centre staff, dated Dec. 31, 2015:
To: Managers of Clinical/Support Services McCaig Tower, FMC
From: Michael Suddes, Site Director, FMC
RE: Testing of drinking water in McCaig Tower, FMC
Testing of the drinking water supply in staff lounges of Floors Three, Four, Five and Six in McCaig Tower have been conducted in response to some concerns raised by staff about the taste and odour of water supply on the third floor.
30 second flush testing results have all proved to be within normal limits but stagnant water has indicated higher than normal limits for lead, aluminum and zinc.
We are continuing to do more testing within the Tower and engaging specialists to help identify the cause and to remediate this. Environmental Public Health And Workplace health and safety are aware and are working with us on this testing and remediation plan
In the meantime, we have placed signage on drinking water faucets in McCaig Tower to advise staff to flush the faucet for 1 minute prior to use for drinking water. Bottled drinking water is also being provided for staff lounged.
Patient water/ice machines are not impacted by this advice and this water testing is limited to McCaigTower only.
Our Environmental public health team in AHS advised that, based upon the test results to date no other action is required regarding the health of staff drinking from this water supply and only pregnant woman who have consumed more than 1-2 litres per working day over several years from this source should consider discussing blood tests with their family physician. All staff who have any concerns are asked to speak with a member of their management team. Individuals who are currently on maternity leave will be contacted by their respective manager.
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