Mitigation efforts are underway at Peace Arch Hospital after high concentrations of lead were discovered in the building’s water supply.
Fraser Health told Peace Arch News via email last week that the risk to health is low, and that repeated testing confirm that the building’s ice and water machines are safe water sources for staff and patients to use. Staff and patients are being directed to consume “filtered drinking water” at the hospital while mitigation work is being completed.
In 2019, Health Canada lowered the maximum allowable concentration of lead in drinking water standard.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we conducted water testing in our acute care facilities using the new, lower level as the benchmark,” Fraser Health senior public affairs consultant Dixon Tam wrote to PAN. “Given the age of some of our facilities, it is not unexpected that the tap water in some of our buildings currently does not meet the new benchmark.”
Tam said Fraser Health has installed signage at its sites to direct the appropriate way to consume water.
According to the City of White Rock’s Water Treatment Plant metal results for 2020, lead did not exceed the 0.005 mg/L limit this year.
A vast majority of the lead testing results came with a lead concentration of .00001 mg/L.
“The drinking water in White Rock is safe to drink,” Tam wrote.
“According to Health Canada, lead is usually found in drinking water as a result of leaching from distribution and plumbing system components. Historically, lead has been used extensively in service lines, solders and fittings, making its present in drinking water more likely in older homes, neighbourhoods and facilities. Fraser Health’s actions in response to our testing results align with those that have been taken by other public sector agencies in British Columbia to manage lead levels in public facilities.”
Tam noted that in older homes and public buildings, it is good practice to let the water run for 30 seconds prior to use.
Ongoing mitigation work at the hospital includes additional testing and verification, further inspection, and testing and replacing the cold water distribution system, equipment, and components.
“We are also engaging external experts to engineer water quality investigation and mitigation methods,” Tam wrote.
– with files from Tracy Holmes