Practical guide to lead water inlets

24 November 2021

Lead water intakes have been used for many years to connect a property’s water supply system to the public drinking water system. Over time, scientists became aware of the toxicity in lead and the risks it posed, especially in paints, and in piping used to transport the water we consume.

The Practical Guide to Lead Water Inlets summarizes everything you need to know about lead water intakes.

Lead water intakes in the media

For several years, the subject of lead water entries has often come back, whether in newspapers or reports. Whether talking about programs in cities, neighbourhoods with lead water entry, health risks, the media has covered this topic well. You can see all articles published online on Google News.

The dangers of lead in water

As stated by the Government of Quebec, health risks of lead exposure from drinking water are low, except for young children and pregnant women.

In Quebec, the standard for lead concentration not to be exceeded in drinking water is 0.010 mg / L. Cities are responsible for meeting this standard.

Recognize a lead water inlet

The majority of lead water entries are found in buildings of 8 storeys or less built before the 1970s.

Recognize a lead pipe by:

  • its gray color,
  • the absence of resonance when struck,
  • the absence of rust,
  • it does not allow a magnet to stay on it.

Have your water tested

To know the lead concentration of your water, you must have it tested. It is possible to have your water tested by a laboratory for $80 to $140 or by using a test kit that can be purchased at hardware stores for $20 to $40. These tests measure other elements such as pesticides, bacteria, pH, nitrates and nitrites.

Protect yourself from lead in water

It is really simple and inexpensive to protect yourself from lead in water. We can protect ourselves from lead in water by:

  • letting the water run for a few minutes;
  • filtering water with a filter jug ​​or devices on the faucet or under the sink;
  • changing the water inlet;
  • cleaning faucet aerators.

Cities most affected by lead water intakes

Across Canada, there are still 500,000 lead water intakes.

In Quebec, the most affected cities are:

  • Montreal
  • Quebec
  • Sherbrooke
  • Sept-Îles
  • Terrebonne
  • Lachute
  • Mirabel
  • La Prairie
  • Longueuil
  • Saint-Hyacinthe
  • Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
  • Côte Saint-Luc
  • Dollard-Des Ormeaux
  • Hampstead
  • Westmount
  • etc.

You can consult the complete list of municipalities that have informed the Ministry of Environment for exceedances of standards for lead in water.

In Ontario, the most affected cities are:

  • Toronto
  • Regina
  • Branford
  • Ottawa
  • Markham

Municipal programs to replace lead water intakes

Municipalities have put in place programs to replace lead water intakes. Programs and financial assistance differ from one municipality to another. It is recommended to contact your municipality to inform you about programs to replace lead water intakes.