Water in the B.C. Legislature building has more than five times the maximum levels of lead allowed under federal and provincial regulations, according to tests ordered by independent MLA Vicki Huntington.

Huntington, the MLA for Delta South, ordered the tests after complaints from her staff that the water in the office tasted metallic.

"Given the stories about the levels of lead in the Prince Rupert schools, they wanted me to let them have our water tested," Huntington said. "My staff sure did start bringing bottled water in today, I'll tell you."

Huntington called on the province to enact a water quality testing regimen for older public buildings, especially schools.

"It is an issue for individuals who spend their careers in this building," she said. "They deserve to know that the drinking water is safe."

Lead a chronic toxin

According to a release from Huntington, a water sample taken from her Legislature office contained 55.4 micrograms per litre. Federal and provincial safety standards allow for a maximum of 10 micrograms per litre.

Lead is a chronic toxin that affects the central nervous system. Symptoms can include tiredness, forgetfulness and weakness in extremities. Long-term exposure can cause kidney damage, anemia and fertility problems.

Huntington highlighted the need to check lead levels in public schools, as children are at particular risk for lead poisoning.