STU testing water fountains on campus for lead

St. Thomas University is testing  pipes supplying 20 water fountains on campus after lead was discovered in water pipes on the University of New Brunswick campus.

The results of the tests are expected early next week , STU spokesman Jeffrey Carleton said. STU and UNB access the same water system.

“When we heard that UNB had a problem with lead in one water fountain in MacLaggan Hall, we thought it was prudent to do testing at St. Thomas,” Carleton said.

“We’re just in a holding pattern until we see what the test results are. But as of yet, there’s no reason for us to believe we have an issue at St. Thomas. It’s just prudent for us to test.”

STU has both old and new water fountains on campus. This past summer, six advanced water fountains were installed on campus as an alternative to purchasing bottled water on campus. The new fountains are equipped with filters to reduce particulate materials like lead, Carleton said.

The rest of the water fountains on campus range in age. Water fountains in McCain Hall are equipped with sensor devices and are only three or four years old. But in some older buildings, there are fountains “that have been there for some time,” Carleton said.

STU is paying to have the tests conducted by RPC Science & Engineering and  the money will come from funds budgeted for daily operations, Carleton said.

STU’s director of facilities management, Bill MacLean, estimated each test will cost the school $20.

Drinking fountain water could contain higher levels of lead than water from taps because the water sits in the fountain for long periods of time and water fountains “contain more piping, soldered joints and fittings from which lead may lead,” Health Canada says.

Absorbing even low levels of lead, Health Canada says, can have harmful health effects including “the intellectual and behavioural development of infants and young children.”


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