High arsenic levels prompt water advisory for Lynnwood Gardens

‘Don’t even brush your teeth with it,’ Ottawa Public Health warns

originally posted on June 23, 2016


Residents of a mobile home park in the southeast Ottawa village of Edwards are being told not to drink their tap water due to high levels of arsenic.

Ottawa Public Health issued a do not drink advisory for Lynnwood Gardens on Wednesday.

“We have been made aware that there are levels of arsenic in the drinking water that are higher than acceptable,” said Dr. Robin Taylor, associate medical officer of health at Ottawa Public Health.

Taylor said while arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical in the rocks of aquifers, the levels found in tap water at Lynnwood Gardens pose a health risk.

“The people who live there, the residents who have access to that water shouldn’t use it for anything that they would be eating or drinking. So no making infant formula, no drinking it, no ice cubes, no coffee, no soup. Don’t cook your pasta or rice in it. Don’t even brush your teeth with it,” said Taylor.

Boiling won’t help, could make things worse

Taylor said boiling the water will not help and could actually make things worse. “If you boil a chemical you can make it more concentrated as the water evaporates. It’s not like a bacteria or a germ you can kill. It’s actually a chemical compound.”

Trevor Ralph grew up in Lynnwood Gardens and said the community has always had problems with its private water system. “It’s been an ongoing issue for years. Decades.”

Ralph has been bringing water to his mother, who still lives in the mobile home community. “It’s not potable enough to consume. It always has been that way. I mean growing up from knee-high to a grasshopper, it’s always been a weekly ritual to carry water in,” said Ralph.

The ministry of the environment is currently working with the operator of the community’s water system to get the arsenic levels down to an acceptable level. In the meantime the owner of the park, Killam Properties, is supplying residents with free bottled water.

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