Lead in Surrey school water has Fraser Health 'concerned' — but no action yet

Health officer says “I think continuing to monitor the situation is probably the best thing we can do at this point and provide support both to the school districts and education to the public in general.”

Health authority will monitor situation, recommends flushing of water systems

All six of the Surrey schools with unsafe lead levels are elementary schools: Crescent Park, Sullivan, Port Kells, Hall's Prairie, Prince Charles, and Surrey Traditional.

The water at six Surrey schools has been tested for lead, and so far, all six have come back with unsafe readings.

All six of the schools are elementary schools: Crescent Park, Sullivan, Port Kells, Hall's Prairie, Prince Charles and Surrey Traditional.

However, Dr. Shovita Padhi, medical health officer with the Fraser Health Authority, says it's too early to tell how significant the results are for students' health.

"It all depends on how many samples were taken, when they were taken," she told On The Coast guest host Michelle Eliot. She said if tests were done first thing in the morning, standing water could result in an inflated amount of lead showing up on tests.

"It's not really reflective of what the levels will be throughout the day."

Padhi said Fraser Health is "concerned" about the test results but any recommendations for action would come on a case-by-case basis.

She said schools should flush water systems once a day each morning and students should let water fountains run for the amount of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday before they drink.

"If [parents] are concerned about their child's development, they're worried about other sources of lead exposure, for example, through paint or toys, they should always go see their family physician," she said.

"I think continuing to monitor the situation is probably the best thing we can do at this point and provide support both to the school districts and education to the public in general."

Padhi says parents can be reassured that at the population level, there's no evidence British Columbians' blood-lead levels are affecting their health.

She also says because of the Lower Mainland's soft, acidic water, lead in drinking water can be a problem in any building built before 1989.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast


To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: 6 Surrey schools have too much lead in water, Fraser Health 'concerned'