The latest public exposure of the total inadequacy of drinking water in Brandon (lead and chlorination byproducts) and the attempts on the part of municipal and provincial officials to minimize the public health consequences has led to feelings in the community that government is not taking care of their essential need for safe drinking water.
It also raises questions of priorities for our tax dollars. Canada and its provinces should commit to water in our country that is drinkable, fishable and swimmable.
Those guarantees would make our lives, economy and health better.
Without clean water, air and land for safe food production, economies are not sustainable.
Lead is considered a most important public health issue worldwide and the most vulnerable are the unborn and young children, although the effects of chronic lead exposures throughout the lifetime of adults is also of growing concern.
Water is only one source of lead in our environment. It is in our air, food and soils. Many of the homes in the mapped area in the Feb. 8 Brandon Sun may also still have lead paint and lead solder was permitted in plumbing historically.
So it is the total body load that is critical and the critical step that should be taken by government now is to fund the measurement of blood lead levels in preschool children and pregnant women in the affected areas of the city.
This was the response of Australians and the Centres for Disease Control in the U.S. to studies published in the 1980s that found neurobehavioural and learning difficulties in infants exposed to lead at blood levels as low as seven micrograms/dl.
This preventative measure, together with replacement of lead pipes, paint etc. will protect the children of our city from this health hazard.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 13, 2013