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Some Powell River area schools show high lead levels

Five Powell River area schools have tested positive for higher than recommended levels of lead in their water.

A collection of provincial studies and internal briefings released through a freedom of information request and first published by Global News shows that many children in schools could be exposed to dangerous levels of the heavy metal in their drinking water. Close to 45 percent of public schools across B.C. had at least one test result that was above five parts per billion (ppb) between 2016 and 2019.

In March of this year, Health Canada recommended five ppb as the maximum acceptable limit for lead concentration in drinking water.  Previously that limit was 10 ppb.

Test results were available for six schools.  Those are Oceanview, Kelly Creek, Edgehill, Texada, James Thompson, and Henderson Elementary.

At Oceanview half of the six tests came back higher than the five ppb limit.  Its highest level was 10 ppb. Kelly Creek had two out of six tests above Health Canada’s threshold with its highest coming in at 13 ppb. Edgehill had only one of its six tests in that time period come back above Health Canada’s safe level.  However, it showed a whopping 34 ppb of lead.

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Texada also had just a single test out of six come in above the limit at nine ppb. It was a similar story at James Thompson with just one high test, but it registered six ppb. None of the six tests at Henderson Elementary registered above Health Canada’s safe level.

We have reached out to School District 47 for further comment.

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