The Ministry of Education and Higher Education sent out a letter to schools and school boards advising them of the high concentration of lead found in drinking water in certain Quebec schools in the last few months.
Guidelines have been put in place by the Quebec government to ensure the safety of all personnel and students, asking that schools respect the guidelines put in place by Health Canada.
On Oct. 23, the government announced they would become the first province to adopt the new acceptable minimal concentration of lead in drinking water — five micrograms per litre (5ug/L).
Elementary schools have until June 23, 2020, and other institutions have until Nov. 1, 2020, to assess the concentration of lead in their water and begin corrective measures.
The government has asked schools to respect and follow the provided guidelines immediately as they wait for the water test results:
- Share the accurate information on the short-term plan with everyone affected
- Identify the areas where you consume drinking water
- Install the poster “designated area for drinking water”
- Indicate near water fountains “Run the water for 1 minute before drinking”
- Indicate near sinks “Run the water for 5 minutes before usage”
- Install a poster near sinks in bathrooms indicating that the water in these areas should only be used to wash your hands
- It is recommended to rinse systematically the water system after a long period of water stagnation (holidays, back to school, etc.
An investigation by Global News, Le Devoir and Concordia’s Institute for Investigative Journalism revealed last week that testing methods used to measure lead levels in Quebec can be misleading, and do not accurately measure how much lead is in the water people drink.
Quebec has since announced it will modify its lead testing rules. They will now sample from the first drop, and after 30 minutes of stagnation instead of flushing water for 5 minutes before measuring lead levels.
— With files from Global’s Dan Spector