Lead contamination found in water at Indian River School sites

by Julia Botero, originally posted on October 7, 2016


The Indian River Central School District in Philadelphia has identified lead contamination in five sites around the district. Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo created a state law requiring all schools test their drinking water for the toxic material. Lead is extremely harmful to young children, often leading to lower IQ’s, behavioral problems and even brain damage.

Fred Hauk, Health and Safety head with BOCES, said he and his staff started testing schools in their region this summer when students were gone. They checked to see if water pouring out of kitchen and bathroom faucets and water fountains had levels of lead over 15 parts per billion.

According to Hauk, after the first tests, about 4% of the schools had drinking water with those lead levels or more. “I guess the best way I could explain it to you as to what 15 parts per billion is, if you were to fill an eyedropper with red food dye and drop those 15 drops into a swimming pool, that’s what 15 parts per billion is.”

James Koch, business manager of Indian River Central school district, said the sources of contamination at the five sites were the faucets themselves, not the school’s main water sources. “We immediately took all five out of service. One is permanently out of service, three have the faucets replaced and will be retested and the forth one we’re waiting for parts to come in.”

Koch said Indian River and other school districts are now turning their attention to sites around schools that aren’t obviously open to students and staff. “Janitor sop sinks need to be tested. You can fill a Gatorade bottle up in there so we need to start looking there,” said Koch.

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