Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Parents Fear Impacts of Lead on Children in Northern B.C. Schools: NDP

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Parents Fear Impacts of Lead on Children in Northern B.C. Schools: NDP

Article excerpt

NDP blasts delays in lead water tests

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VICTORIA - A failed classroom experiment four years ago in northwestern British Columbia has spawned widespread concern from parents who fear their children face risks of lead poisoning from drinking water at their schools.

A science class in Kitimat was trying to raise salmon eggs in an aquarium in 2012 but the eggs kept dying, prompting water tests that found copper and lead, said a B.C. Centre for Disease Control report released Thursday by the Opposition New Democrats.

"Here, the death of the salmon eggs in a classroom aquarium triggered an investigation that found elevated levels of copper and lead in the school's drinking water," said the report, dated April 2014.

A district-wide investigation then found varied levels of lead and copper in drinking water in other schools.

Flushing school water taps every morning was deemed a cheap and effective means of keeping the water safe, read the report, which suggested these mitigation actions "may be informative for health authorities across Canada."

But North Coast New Democrat MLA Jennifer Rice said Thursday it took four years for the investigation's results to filter to Prince Rupert, located about 200 kilometres from Kitimat.

Earlier this week, students received a note from the local school district that elevated levels of lead were found in the drinking water at four schools in Prince Rupert.

"Parents are scared," said Rice. "Parents are wondering if they should be testing their children for lead poisoning."

The Feb. 16 letter stated: "School District 52 is working with Northern Health to address elevated levels of lead detected in water at four schools in Prince Rupert. The school district is committed to ensuring that the drinking water provided to staff and students at local schools is safe and has taken steps to address possible health concerns related to exposure of lead, including the implementation of a flushing program before the start of each school day. …

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