Tap water sink
Tap water sinkiStock

The amount of lead in Canadian homes drinking water is higher than the safe limit a major investigation has found. Of the 12,000 samples taken between 2014 and 2018, a third exceeded the national safety guideline of 5 parts per billion (ppb).

The investigation was carried out by 120 journalists from nine media outlets in conjunction with nine universities, collecting samples and analyzing them. Whilst a third had over 5ppb, 18%had over 15ppb, levels similar to that seen in Flint, Michigan.

Canada has the third-largest per-capita fresh water reserve in the world. Lead contamination has been linked with low IQ in children, hypertension and heart disease.

The biggest source of lead in Canada's drinking water is antiquated pipes and public service lines that connect people's homes to the main water supply. A government report from 2017 estimated that about 500,000 homes across the country were affected.

In the US, where a water crisis in Flint, Michigan, in 2015 sparked congressional hearings and several lawsuits, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supposed to notify citizens of the results of lead-testing on their drinking water, and much of the information is made public. None of that is true with Canada where there is no legal requirement for transparency and regions can create their own safety level.