GRAEME BRUCE/BRANDON SUN
Water testing kits are now available at city hall.
Subtle effects on cognitive development associated with long-term lead exposure should not be a concern to pregnant women and children, according to health officials.
While tap water from lead pipes is one of the primary sources of lead nowadays, it’s also found in air, food and soil.
And health issues only could arise with prolonged high exposure to lead.
Health officials consider lead tests as pre-emptive measures to ensure the population decreases lifetime exposure to lead — and that starts at infancy.
Reducing the amount of lead infants and children are exposed to means less exposure throughout their life, according to medical officer of health Dr. Sandra Allison of Prairie Mountain Health.
Lead ingested by pregnant women is transferred to the unborn baby as well, so expecting mothers are also noted in scientific findings.
But lead levels have significantly decreased in the last 30 years as more and more scientific findings are released.
"It’s important to put this into context," said Dr. Allison. "Lead levels have significantly dropped because we’ve stopped using leaded gasoline and paint," she said.
Dr. Allison noted as well, findings by Health Canada — which sparked provincial tests — found "associations" rather than "causations," meaning no direct link has been found between lead levels in the blood and health effects.
Lisa, an east-end Brandon resident who declined to give her last name, stopped by city hall Monday to pick up a testing kit for her home whichwas built in the early 1900s.
Lisa has an 11-month-old baby, who was her main concern after the city released last week the findings of water tests which saw high levels of lead in some areas of the city.
According to the map provided by the city, her house is in the ‘blue zone’, areas of the city which possibly have lead water services.
"We’re not super concerned because people have been living there forever, but anything to make our baby as healthy as possible is good," she said.
After buying the testing kit from the city, Lisa voiced a bit of frustration with the city charging for the testing kits — something Winnipeg does for free.
"I think that it’s horrible," she said. "I don’t think we should be paying for it, it’s only $20, but I don’t think we should be paying for the test."
Heather Carr, director of Southwest Day Care Centre Located on Sixth Street and Van Horne Avenue said she hasn’t heard much concern for the parents of the 32 kids she takes care of.
While the daycare is located in an older part of the city, her lead service lines have been replaced.
"Nobody has shown a great deal of concern yet," she said. "If anyone brings it up certainly I’ll talk to them about it, but on Friday as soon as I heard I called the city."
But with the developments of the lead in the water still only a few days old, she said she expects to get calls from parents.
"That’s why I looked into it right away."
Judy Walker runs a licensed daycare from home which is also in an older part of town, and said she too hasn’t heard much from parents yet concerning lead in the water.
"They haven’t even had time to be honest," she said. "I hope I will get a question or two from somebody, but...there isn’t one stitch of old plumbing in my house."
Walker said she’s had all of her pipes replaced leading up to her house and has little to worry about.
"I’m not concerned about my own home, am I concerned about others? Yes, lead is a serious issue."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 12, 2013