The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has developed an enhanced water testing protocol for testing lead levels in every school water fountain in the province. This collaborative initiative involves each New Brunswick school district as well as the Departments of Health, Environment, and Supply and Services. The goal of this testing program is to reduce the exposure of students and staff to lead and to ensure safe and healthy learning and working environments.
Water sources in our schools come from either municipal water systems or artesian wells both of which are checked on a regular basis, according to government recommendations, for inorganic particles such as lead and microorganisms such as bacteria.
Testing is carried out in schools through the following method:
Two samples are taken from each fountain early in the day after water has sat for a minimum of 8 to 24 hours. A “first grab” sample of water is taken without any flushing then, following 30 seconds of continuous flushing, a second sample is taken. Lead results obtained from water sampling may vary due to several conditions including the method of sampling and duration that water sat in the system.
Test results require careful interpretation since the concentration of lead can vary considerably over time and certain fountains may remain unused for longer periods of time according to the natural pattern of events within a school.
The capacity of the Analytical Services Lab will be increased to aid districts in the scheduling and sampling process at the beginning of December. EECD will continue to work with districts and the provincial lab to ensure testing of all school fountains is completed and any issues are addressed in a timely fashion.