Important Notice to Berkey Customers

January 21st, 2023

If you have purchased Black Berkey replacement elements from Watermatters™ since August 2021 that you have stored for future use, or if your elements are in use and ... More »

Asbestos in Drinking Water

During the 1960’s and 70’s it was common practice in North America to use asbestos/cement pipe for city water mains as an alternative to metal pipe, which is easily corroded by acidic water. However, it turns out that asbestos/cement pipe doesn’t stand up well over time and much of it has since been, or is being, replaced.

The Metro Vancouver Water District supplies water to 18 municipalities in the Greater Vancouver area. It tests for the presence of asbestos in our source water that comes from snow melt and rain runoff collected in the Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam reservoirs. This water is then purchased by member municipalities that construct and maintain the piping system that delivers water to your tap.

Although the City of Vancouver’s Water Design Branch says there is “no known asbestos pipe in our (Vancouver’s) water system”, other municipalities within Metro Vancouver may still be supplying some water through asbestos/cement pipe.

Metro Vancouver municipalities do not test for the presence of asbestos in our water supply because Health Canada has deemed asbestos fibres safe for ingestion, despite the fact that the inhalation of these fibres is known to be highly carcenogenic. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency takes a more cautious position.

For those of us who do not share this confidence in the credulity of Health Canada, there are affordable water treatment systems certified for asbestos reduction.

NSF International lists cancer as a potential health effect of ingesting water containing asbestos fibres. According to a source at their Drinking Water Treatment Unit, “asbestos fibers are at least 10 microns in length, and are typically approximately 3 microns in diameter”. Consequently, a drinking water filter with an absolute micron size of one (1), or smaller, should intercept any asbestos fibres in your water supply.