To: CMSD82 Kitimat School Parents, Guardians & Caregivers
RE: School District working with Northern Health to address elevated levels of lead and copper in water supplies at various schools in Kitimat
• Northern Health Q&A – Drinking Water Concerns
Coast Mountains School District 82 (CMSD82) is working with Northern Health to address elevated levels of lead and copper detected in water supplies at various schools in Kitimat. Water testing conducted by Northern Health and the School District have reflected levels of copper and lead that are higher than Health Canada recommended levels. The affected CMSD82 schools are Nechako Elementary School, Kildala Elementary School, Kitimat City High and Mount Elizabeth Secondary School.
The School District has taken steps to address possible health concerns related to exposure of lead and copper including the implementation of a flushing program before the start of each school day. Flushing programs are shown to be effective in decreasing lead and copper levels at the tap.
The prevalence of lead and copper in the schools’ drinking water is likely due to aggressive water leaching copper and lead from plumbing installed prior to 1990. Northern Health suggests that families in Kitimat with plumbing containing lead and copper flush their taps each morning for a minimum of five minutes, before drinking the water. Lead and copper are metals that naturally occur in the environment and are commonly used in plumbing materials.
Northern Health has confirmed with the BC Center for Disease (BCCDC) that the amount of lead measured in the pre-flush samples is not expected to produce health effects given the sporadic nature of water consumption in the school setting. The BCCDC indicated the possible worst case scenario, from the water test samples taken in Kitimat CMSD82 Schools, estimates the exposure of a child to up to half of the daily acceptable limit for lead. Exposure to lead is of most concern primarily in young children with developing nervous systems and bones. Copper is primarily a concern for taste and odor.
Together with Northern Health, the School District will develop a long-term plan to ensure the drinking water provided to staff and students at local schools is safe.
Parents and individuals with further concerns relating to their exposure to lead and copper should consult with their physician.