Canadian Municipal Water eBulletin

Health Canada Consulting on new Guidance for Lead in Drinking Water

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CDW proposing to introduce more stringent requirements after presence of lead in drinking water linked to reductions in IQ. The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water (CDW) recently released a technical document to solicit public comment on a proposal to introduce a revised guideline for lead in drinking water. The existing guideline for lead, last updated in 1992, based its maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) of 0.01 mg/L (10 µg/L) on a provisional tolerable weekly intake of lead established by the World Health Organization (WHO) at a level that showed no increase in blood lead levels and thus no expected increase in health risks. The new document identifies reductions in IQ as the critical effect of lead and proposes halving concentrations to a MAC of 0.005 mg/L (5 µg/L) based on analytical achievability. The toxicity of lead has been extensively documented in humans, based on blood lead levels (BLLs). Effects that have been studied include reduced cognition, increased blood pressure and renal dysfunction in adults, and adverse neurodevelopmental and behavioural effects in children. The deadline to provide comments/suggestions is March 15, 2017.
CWWA and our Drinking Water Quality Committee are reviewing the proposed guidance, and will submit technical comments. The Association has also formed a sub-committee who will be reviewing the broader issues around lead in drinking water and the utility responsibility regarding lead service line replacement. The new group will be working on developing a position statement on lead in drinking water.

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