January 29, 2016 7:46 pm
Updated: January 30, 2016 1:11 am

Edmonton woman warns of lead pipes after finding the toxin in her water

WATCH ABOVE: Lead exposure is the cause of a number of health problems. An Edmonton woman’s experience has her speaking out about the importance of checking for lead pipes in homes. Fletcher Kent reports.


EDMONTON – Lee Anne Pedersen never thought much about her water pipes until she found out they are made of lead.

Now, the Edmonton woman is trying to figure out how to replace the pipes and treat some health problems she thinks may have been made worse by the lead.

Pedersen says her doctor has been treating her for hypothyroidism.

“It wasn’t working to the extent we though it would so he began looking for other avenues of investigation,” Pedersen said of the treatment.

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He conducted a heavy metals test, which found high levels of lead in her system. Immediately, Pedersen called EPCOR.

The water company tested Pedersen’s water and found lead concentrations more than twice as high as Health Canada deems safe.

EPCOR also confirmed the service pipe into Pedersen’s home was, in fact, made of lead.

“It’s quite possible that, having discovered now I have lead pipes in the house and I have been drinking very contaminated water for the past 11 years, that may have contributed to my hyperthyroidism,” said Pedersen.

Pedersen is undergoing chelation treatment to deal with her medical problems. She is also concerned about how she might fix her house.

It won’t be cheap.

Lead was widely used in plumbing until the mid-1950s. EPCOR has replaced all lead water mains in Edmonon. However, every home has a service line that runs from the water main under the street to the home.

If your home was built after the mid-1950s, that service line would be made of either copper or plastic.

EPCOR estimates the service lines connecting about 3,500 older Edmonton homes are still made of lead.

However, the company warns it can’t be certain about that number.

READ MORE: Lead in the water: Tens of thousands of Canadian households still have toxic pipes

“It’s difficult for us to know exactly how many people are out there that still have the pipes because they might deal with it on their own without us knowing about it,” said EPCOR’s Tim LeRiche.

Since 2008, the utility company has operated a program that gradually replaces remaining lead pipes.

Financially, EPCOR is only responsible for the pipe between the water main and the property line. The homeowner must pay to replace the pipe from the property line to the house.

Depending on what you have to dig up, it could cost $10,000.

EPCOR notifies homeowners it believes have lead service pipes. The company will test the water of concerned residents and will also provide a lead filter to customers with lead pipes.

Pedersen is not suggesting EPCOR or the city should have done more to warn her of the dangers she faced.

“We’re always going to be finding out that materials we use in house construction are unhealthy for us so we can’t expect the government to fix our problems for us,” she said.

Instead, she wants owners of older homes to learn from her ordeal and double check their service pipes, if they haven’t already.

She says knowing more about the risks could go a long way in preventing trips to the doctor.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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