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Elevated Lead Levels Found In Seven District Schools’ Water

Chart showing the areas in MacAfee Road School where excessive levels of lead were found in water supplies.


Nearly three dozen water sources in seven township schools contain levels of lead higher than is considered safe by federal standards.

The levels of lead found in the water ranged from 15.6 parts per billion (ppb) to 1,720 ppb. Federal guidelines recommend that lead levels in water in excess of 15 ppb be remediated because of health concerns.

The affected water sources – fountains and sink faucets – have been shut down while they are being retested and the problems are being remediated, according to letters from schools Superintendent John Ravally to district parents.

Ravally sent letters home to parents on March 10 and March 16. The letters detailed which schools had problems, and where those problem sites are located.

More than 460 water samples were taken in three rounds of testing, Ravally wrote.

Even with the problems that were detected in the latest rounds of testing, the schools’ drinking water is safe, Ravally wrote in the letters.

In the first round, he wrote, only four of the 154 water samples showed elevated levels of lead.

“In other words, 97 percent of the water outlets tested did not have any lead problems,” he wrote.

Elevated lead levels were found in the first round in Franklin Park School in the following areas:

  • Faucet on the 2nd floor by Classroom #305, 72.0 ppb
  • Food prep faucet in the 1st floor office Room #520, 69.7 ppb
  • Drinking water fountain on the 1st floor Classroom #215, 15.4 ppb

Elevated levels of lead were also found in water samples from the Franklin Park annex in the following areas:

  • Faucet on the 1st floor Classroom AS
  • Drinking water fountain on the 1st floor by Classroom AS
  • Drinking water fountain in the 1st hallway by Room AS

In the second round, Ravally said in the March 16 letter, 26 samples of the 158 taken tested high for lead. These were in the following locations:

Conerly Road School

  • 1st Floor Kitchen Faucet used for Food Prep, 44.3 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Room 20, 17.1 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Room 21, 55.7 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Room 22, 45.7 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Room 2, 17.1 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Principal’s Office Bathroom, 138.0 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Room 7, 18.0 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Room 14, 20.4 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Room 15, 89.0 ppb

Pine Grove Manor School

  • 1st Floor Faucet in Nurse’s Office, 15.6 ppb
  • 1st Floor Drinking Water Fountain in Hallway by Kitchen, 20.6 ppb
  • 1st Floor Kitchen Faucet used for Food Prep, 25.1 ppb
  • 1st Floor Drinking Water Fountain in Room 4, 23.1 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Principal’s Office Bathroom, 17.5 ppb

Franklin Middle School

  • 2nd Floor Drinking Water Fountain by Room 19, 33.4 ppb
  • 2nd Floor Faucet in Teacher’s Lounge in Room 220, 51.8 ppb

MacAfee Road School

  • 1st Floor Food Prep Faucet in Kitchen by Boiler Room, 41.9 ppb
  • 1st Floor Food Prep Steamer in Kitchen by Boiler Room, 29.3 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Room 69, 22.2 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Room 71, 155 ppb
  • 1st Floor Drinking Water Fountain by Teacher’s Lounge, 18.6 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Room 37, 37.7 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Room 39, 15.7 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Room 40, 24.9 ppb
  • 1st Floor Faucet in Room 43, 32.6 ppb
  • 1st Floor Drinking Water Fountain in Room 43, 85.6 ppb

The third round of testing involved 153 samples, with three coming back with elevated levels of lead, Ravally said. They were:

Franklin High School

  • Food Prep Outlet 0) in 1st Floor Kitchen (G106), 1020 ppb
  • Food Prep Outlet (K) in 1st Floor Kitchen (G106), 1720 ppb

Elizabeth Avenue School

  • Drinking Water Fountain in 1st Floor Classroom 4, 564 ppb

“It is important to note that follow-up flush samples will be taken at each of the outlets, which indicated lead levels above the specified threshold, to assist in identifying the potential source of the lead at these outlets,” Ravally wrote. “Until then, we will be isolating these outlets so that they will not be used for drinking water purposes.”

“Confirmatory flush samples will be taken at each of these outlets,” he wrote. “If the fixtures are identified to contain lead or
lead parts, we will replace the part or plumbing. While we continue with the sampling process, we will ensure that no one uses these outlets until the problem has been corrected.”

In May 2016, all hallway water fountains in Hillcrest School were shut down when lead levels of 24 ppb were found. Those problems have since been rectified.

Ravally noted in his letters that “high levels of lead in drinking water can cause health problems. Lead is most dangerous for pregnant women, infants, and children under 6 years old. Exposure to high levels of lead during pregnancy contributes to low birth weight and developmental delays in infants.”

“In young children, lead exposure can lower IQ levels, affect hearing, reduce attention span, and hurt school performance. In the most extreme circumstances high levels of lead can even lead to serious brain injury,” he wrote.

“To protect public health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that schools and day care facilities test their drinking water for lead,” Ravally wrote. “If lead is found at any water outlet at levels above 15 parts per billion (ppb), EPA recommends taking action to reduce the lead.”

 

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