Lead in drinking water affects homes built before the mid-1950’s when residential water service pipes were commonly made of lead. Lead pipes are not used in apartment buildings or multi-residential buildings with more than six units. According to Health Canada’s website, “The National Plumbing Code allowed lead as an acceptable material for pipes until 1975 and in solder until 1986.”
As lead pipes, lead solder and brass fittings corrode or break down, lead can enter drinking water, which can pose a health risk for some people. Those most vulnerable are pregnant women, infants (in particular those fed formula made from tap water) and children under the age of six.
Water service pipes are owned by the homeowner and by the City. The part that the City owns goes from the watermain on the street to the property line and the short section where the water metre is installed. All other water pipes (supply and discharge) within the private property belongs to the property owner.
Toronto Public Health encourages residents with lead pipes to consider a full service line replacement as the best way to reduce their exposure to lead and to protect their health.
To determine if your pipes are lead, you may want to ask a plumber. The City also offers free lead testing for those who live in a home built before the mid-1950’s. Residents who replace their section of the pipe can apply to have the City upgrade its side on a priority basis through the Priority Lead Water Service Replacement Program. Toronto Water informs us that in Ward 41, there are no lead pipes on the city side.
To learn more about this and other ways that the City is working to reduce lead in drinking water, visit toronto.ca/leadpipes or call 311.