Based on current studies on the long-term health effects of lead, Health Canada issued a new guideline for lead exposure in drinking water in 2019. At 0.005 mg/L, Canada's guideline value for lead is one of the lowest in the world.
The updated Health Canada guideline is part of an overall lead reduction strategy that recognizes there is new information on the health effects of exposure to lead from all sources (not just drinking water).
Strathcona County’s water supply is safe, clean, and meets the new guideline.
However, household plumbing materials can cause lead levels measured in private residences to exceed the Health Canada guidelines. Therefore, the new guidelines also require the County to test drinking water ‘at the tap’.
In 2021, Strathcona County tested 436 water samples collected from homes across the county. Only two samples exceeded the new lead guideline, and only by a small amount. No lead service lines were discovered.
Protecting your health
Strathcona County’s water supply is safe and clean, and meets the new Health Canada guideline. However, the most common sources of lead in drinking water are “at the tap.” In other words, in the plumbing in your house and if you have lead service lines on your property.
If you are concerned that you may have a lead service line this video from EPCOR shows you how to check in your home.
Residents who think their homes may have lead fixtures can take measures to reduce their risk of lead exposure.
Flush standing water in pipes each morning or after returning home at the end of the day—by flushing the toilet, washing your hands, or letting the water run cold. The flushing clears out any water that’s been sitting in the lead pipes. By doing this, you ensure the water is straight from the main service line.
Use cold water for both drinking and cooking—hot water dissolves more lead from plumbing and boiling water doesn’t remove lead.
Not all home water-treatment filters remove lead. Before purchasing a filter, check the model to ensure it meets lead reduction certification. It should be NSF-53 certified for lead reduction.
Residents can contact Health Link 24/7 for health information on lead exposure toll free at 811.
Related Health Canada documents
- Drinking water: What about lead?(Infographic)
- Water Talk: Reducing your exposure to lead from drinking water
- Guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality
- Guideline Technical Document - Lead
Adding orthophosphate for corrosion control and lead prevention
Strathcona County’s water supplier, EPCOR, is protecting customers from water pipe corrosion and lead in drinking water by adding orthophosphate to its water treatment process. This began in March 2023. Orthophosphate is commonly used worldwide to create a protective coating on the inside of lead pipes and plumbing. This prevents lead from leaching into drinking water.
Orthophosphate is safe, tasteless and odourless. It is naturally present in foods.
The addition of orthophosphate concentration in the water supply may require some businesses to make adjustments to their own water processes. More information is available from EPCOR.
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