If you live in a home built before the mid-1950s, the pipe delivering water from the street into your home may be made of lead, a soft metal that can affect how the brain and nervous system grows. Those who are the most vulnerable are pregnant women, infants (in particular those who are fed formula made from tap water) and children under the age of six.

To protect your health, Toronto Public Health recommends those with lead pipes take the following actions:

  • Replace the entire lead service pipe - both the City-owned portion and the portion on your private property. Residents who commit to replacing their side of the pipe can apply to have the City replace its side through the Priority Lead Water Service Replacement Program. Note: Please read the information below for some important steps you should take whenever a lead water service is cut so that the pipe can be replaced.
  • Install an end-of-tap water filter. Look for filters certified by the National Sanitation Foundation for lead removal and reduction. Install this filter on the tap you use most often for cooking or for water to drink.
  • Feeding your baby
    • If you have a baby at home and are breastfeeding, continue to breastfeed your baby.  The amount of lead in breast milk is much lower than in tap water.  If you are feeding your baby formula use cold filtered tap water, boil it and then let it cool.  Use within 30 minutes.  Until you have a filter, consider using bottled water for making baby formula, or ready-to-feed formula.
    • Read more about lead and drinking water on the City of Toronto website.

If you are unable to install a filter on the tap you use most often for drinking and cooking:

  • Flush your pipes. If water has not been used for over an hour, run the tap until it is very cold, and then let it run for at least 1 more minute. This will flush any standing water out of the pipes and will draw fresh water from the watermain.
  • Use cold water for cooking and drinking, even after flushing the pipes. Lead in pipes moves more readily into hot water than into cold water, so cold water is less likely to be contaminated.

Important steps to take following a lead water service replacement

Particles of lead can come loose during a lead water service pipe replacement. For this reason, any time a lead water service pipe is cut - either to replace just one half or both sides of the pipe at the same time - the following steps should be taken:

  • Before using any hot or cold water, go to the lowest tap in your house (usually in the basement) and run the cold water for 15 minutes to remove any loose particles.
  • Remove and rinse all faucet aerators or end of tap water filters. Check to make sure there are no trapped lead particles in the screen. Do this by turning the aerator over and rinsing water through it. This step should be repeated regularly.
  • Install an end-of-tap water filter certified to remove lead in drinking water (as mentioned above) and continue to follow the other actions outlined above.

To learn more about how to reduce your exposure to lead, visit Toronto Public Health's website at www.toronto.ca/health_lead.

To learn more about how the City is working to reduce lead in drinking water, visit www.toronto.ca/leadpipes or call 311.