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.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
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.