Report: 13 percent of Toronto homes show unsafe lead levels in tap water tests

The Toronto Star reports 13 percent of homes in the city have unsafe levels of lead in tap water

New data analysis indicates that 13 percent of homes in Toronto have lead levels in their drinking water that exceeds the safe limit of 10 parts-per-billion. 

In some cases, the levels are 2,000-times the safe limit.

The neighbourhoods most likely affected include High Park, the Yonge-Lawrence area, the south Annex downtown and parts of East York.

This comes from analysis done by the Toronto Star.

The city acknowledges there are roughly 40,000 homes connected to city water services that flow through lead pipes. 

Toronto Water assumes that the water service is lead in all homes built before the mid-1950's unless the city records show otherwise.

Exposure to lead can affect the brain and nervous system and is most dangerous for fetuses, infants, and children under the age of 6.

The city is scheduled to add phosphate to it's water treatment plant in Etobicoke in the coming weeks and by mid-year the phosphate will also be added to the remaining water treatment plants in the city.  

Phosphate will build up inside the pipes and provide a protective barrier against the lead but that could take up to two years before the build up is sufficient.

If your water tests at anything above 10-parts-per-billion, those at greatest risk of pregnant women and children younger than 6.  


You should note that if you live in an apartment or condo building with more than 3 floors, you do not have lead pipes, no matter how old the building.

To find out if there is lead in your tap water, go to your nearest Toronto Public Health office and ask for the testing kit.  It's free.

If your water tests at anything above 10 parts of lead-per-billion, the recommendation from City officials is that you immediately install a water filter. 

The National Sanitation Foundation advises faucet-mounted filters certified as NSF-053 reduce lead in water up to 99 percent.  The NSF certification logo should be visible on the packaging.  Only those NSF-053 filters qualify for the City's Faucet Filter Rebate Program.

You can visit the National Sanitation Foundation's website to find out more.

The City also recommends running your taps until the water is very cold and at that point, keep the tap going for another minute. 

Lead gets into hot water easier than cold water.

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  • 11
  1. Alex posted on 05/20/2014 08:39 AM
    Unsafe water now? Wait till the new Mike Harris, Tim Hudak cuts programs and people.

    Better stock up on bottled water!
    1. Will posted on 05/20/2014 02:43 PM
      @Alex First of all, I generally like seeing my own words on the screen for everyone to see (and who doesn't, really?), but I generally don't feel the need to post the same thing three times for emphasis.

      I can understand an accidental duplicate post now and again, but three in a row??

      That said, before you attempt to blame conservatism for neglect of public health, think again.

      Presumably, you are referring to the Walkerton tragedy, of which the judicial inquiry concluded that the eeeeevil corporate water laboratory had done its job effectively by reporting the dangerous test results in a timely manner, while it was several highly skilled, highly paid union members at the public utility who were neglectful in their duties by not properly treating the water and failing to heed the lab's warnings.
    2. Alice posted on 05/20/2014 02:49 PM
      @Alex When Tim Hudak is in charge, the people responsible for making sure our water is safe won't have a union to hide behind. Every last one of them will understand that another Walkerton will result in them being held fully accountable for the consequences of their actions.

      Premier Tim Hudak means a better, more accountable workforce. And in this case, safer water.
  2. Alex posted on 05/20/2014 08:40 AM
    Unsafe water now? Wait till the new Mike Harris, Tim Hudak cuts programs and people.

    Better stock up on bottled water!
  3. Alex posted on 05/20/2014 08:40 AM
    Unsafe water now? Wait till the new Mike Harris, Tim Hudak cuts programs and people.

    Better stock up on bottled water!
  4. Herry posted on 05/20/2014 09:15 AM
    This is exactly what happened to the Roman Empire, lead poisoning. So, what does Toronto exactly plan on doing about it ? PROBABLY NOTHING ! Why would we NOT be surprised ?
  5. john posted on 05/20/2014 10:34 AM
    so thats why people form Toronto keep voting liberal ! lead poison causes brain damage and liberal voters are brain damaged soooo ..........
    1. Alex posted on 05/20/2014 11:40 AM
      @john Did that have something to do with voting drug taking, drunk driving, abusive, friend of the street gangs, criminal behaviour lying Conservative Rob Ford in too?
    2. Frankie posted on 05/20/2014 12:18 PM
      @john Must be a problem throughout Ontario then. As Rex Murphy said, only on Mars and in Ontario could the Liberals get re-elected
  6. Wise To Etobicoke Politicos posted on 05/20/2014 08:21 PM
    The lead remediation program was slashed in the Toronto 2010 budget .....................same old suspects!!

    I guess gravy and lead do mix.......................................

    Imagine if you tried to run the city like your daddy's business you inherited
    1. john posted on 05/21/2014 12:48 PM
      @Wise To Etobicoke Politicos it would have been run better .
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