DES MOINES, Iowa –When the Des Moines Public School District began testing its buildings for lead, it anticipated some of them would have lead-contaminated water.
Results released Friday proved officials right. Nearly 800 water samples were taken earlier this month, only one came back with a high level of lead: Wright Elementary School.
Water experts say the levels tested high in a drinking fountain but it did not contaminate the school’s entire water system. The district is already taking steps to resolve the issue.
“What we are doing there is simply disconnecting the water service to that particular fountain. We’re going to be replacing that very soon. We will then go back in and retest that to see if the corrected the problem or not,” said Des Moines Public Schools spokesperson Phil Roeder.
The EPA recommends action when lead levels are higher than 15 parts per billion. The water fountain at Wright reached 30 parts per billion. The EPA says health risks usually occur when lead levels are in the hundreds.
Wright isn’t the only school the district is keeping a close eye on. A handful of other schools had to be re-tested due to their risk of potential contamination.
“For the schools that had some high results this first time around, those will be the priority to do some building-wide tests to see if there is anything else in that school that needs be addressed immediately,” says Roeder.
Once those tests are completed, the district plans to re-test the buildings again later this year.
Districts like West Des Moines, Ankeny, and Johnston don’t regularly test their water for lead, though it’s not required. Roeder hopes his districts’ actions serve as a model for other districts.
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