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November 30, 2018 – Since September, the Province's Sustainable Development department has resampled the soil at a number of locations including Weston School field. The results show that lead levels on the field continue to be higher than the recommend guidelines set out by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment for human health of a maximum 140 ppm (parts per million).
Sustainable Development took 21 composite samples from the field at 7.5 centimeters depth. Four out of the 21 samples were within acceptable levels. The remaining 17 samples, however, averaged 219 ppm. While this is significantly better than the average 463 ppm found in the 2007 samples, it is still higher than the guidelines.
As you will see in the attached letter from Manitoba Public Health, the risk of health effects related to lead in soil is very low. Manitoba Public Health notes that the guideline of 140 ppm is based on year-round exposure. With Winnipeg's climate, the low risk of exposure to lead is present for only part of the year and, at the current time, the snow cover and frozen ground make the risk of exposure to lead in soil very small.
Winnipeg School Division's next steps are to work with the Province to develop a mitigation plan that will ensure the soil at Weston School is completely safe for our students and school staff. The Province's Sustainable Development department is working on a full report of the results and options for managing lead in soil. Their objective is to be in a position to take corrective action as early as the Spring of 2019, when the ground has thawed.
The fence around Weston School field will be removed in coming weeks to allow students access to play on the frozen grounds. In addition, Manitoba Public Health is planning to hold a community information forum to answer questions about lead in soil and steps we can all take to reduce our risk. Once that information forum is confirmed, we will share details with our school communities.
More information on other lead exposures and precautions related to contaminated soil can be found at www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/environmentalhealth/home_gardens.html
September 10, 2018 - On Wednesday, September 12, 2018, a report from over a decade ago was brought to our attention – this is a report that we had not previously received from the government. The report raised concerns about soil lead levels in areas throughout Winnipeg, including samples from six school yards in Winnipeg School Division: Weston School, Tyndall Park School, Lord Nelson School, Dufferin School, Fort Rouge School and Gordon Bell High School.
WSD met with the Director of Sustainable Development and Manitoba Health Medical Officers Thursday, September 13, 2018 and we were very reassured that there is a very low health risk from lead in soil on school properties in WSD. We have been advised that the Province’s Sustainable Development Department is going to resample soil from all the locations indicated in the 2007 sampling, with school properties being a priority. If further action is taken, we will be informed immediately. Prior to our meeting, we had closed access to the Weston School field as a precaution.
After a site visit with the Director of Sustainable Development and Provincial Health Officers, WSD determined that the fence can be removed once additional sod in some bare areas is added, so that there is no exposed soil in the field. The field at Weston has a full top layer of sod that secures the risk of dust, however, staff will monitor student activity on the field and ensure thorough hand washing after play as part of our strategy going forward.
Linked below is a letter from Manitoba Public Health with more information about the low health risk of lead in soil, as well as precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk of being exposed.
QA about soil lead.pdf
The government report written in 2011 about the 2007 soil samples has now been provided to us. You may view it at the following link:
Surface soil lead levels report 2011 based on 2007 sampling