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School Lead Testing Results

School Lead Testing Results

 

We are doing everything possible to keep kids safe from lead

  1. We participated in this voluntary testing knowing the results might be challenging.
  2. We found lead in our water and we are concerned.
  3. We have taken the following steps to protect students.
  4. Lead is in our environment, however we want to take steps to reduce lead exposure where we can.

 

We are partnering with DOH to reduce student’s exposure to lead

  1. We knew that we had older buildings and that put us at a greater risk for lead in our drinking water, that’s why we asked to be among the first to test.
  2. We are working with DOH to identify lead sources and reduce them as much as possible.
    1. The EPA action level is 20 ppb.
    2. The lower the lead level in water the better
    3. Reaching zero is difficult – if not impossible.
  3. We will take action on the results that are above the EPA action level.

 

Children at schools with lead in their drinking water are likely healthy

  1. Children between 0 and 5 years of age are at most risk from the effects of lead but we want to protect all our students from lead
  1. The concentration of lead in drinking water, even when it exceeds the EPA standard, is low compared to other sources of lead such as lead paint. The likelihood of drinking water at school alone causing an elevated blood lead level is very low.
  2. If you believe your child may have been exposed to lead in the environment, contact your healthcare provider.

 

Background information:

  • In 2017, the Legislature directed DOH to sample and test drinking water in public schools. The purpose of this testing is to reduce or eliminate lead in school water.
  • DOH is planning to test approximately 500 public elementary schools over the 2017 – 2019 biennium; 250 each year.
  • Schools with the oldest buildings are at greatest risk for lead in their water.
  • Water sampling was done before children arrived for school; the process took about an hour and a half to complete.
  • Samplers took the very first draw of water from the taps after the water has been sitting overnight. This technique is designed to find the highest levels of lead. After the tap has been used a few times the lead concentration likely goes down.
  • DOH is helping us understand recommendations based on testing results.
  • Schools are not currently required to test for lead in their drinking water.
  • Regulations supporting school health and safety have been on hold for more than 8 years due to a lack of legislative funding.

 

 

Dear Washtucna School Community,

 

In 2017, the legislature directed the Washington State Department of Health to test for lead in drinking water in public schools in an effort to reduce children’s overall exposure to lead in the environment.  As part of our commitment to ensuring the health of our students and staff is protected, we recently participated in this program.

 

What did we learn?

On February 15th, the Department of Health staff sampled 27 fountains and sinks throughout the main building and agricultural building.  This represents every fixture that provides drinking water to students or staff, or is used to prepare food.  The testing was done prior to the school day before students were in the building.

 

Washtucna School District and Superintendent Vance Wing, received notification of the test being completed and that out of 27 water samples throughout the district, 4 of the sample results had lead levels above the EPA’s action level for lead, or 20 parts per billion (ppb).  With that said, Ann Marie Charles, who sent the email, did not send the attachment that provided us with the information as to which 4 water sources had high parts per billion.  Therefore, we took all of our drinking water sources out of service until we could gather that information.

 

At 9:30 am Ann Marie contacted Mr. Wing and was able to provide him with the location of the 4 sources with high lead results.

 

What are we doing?

  • Immediately after being notified this morning, March 2nd, 2018, via email we took all drinking fountains and sinks in the main facility and in the Agricultural Building, out of service for drinking water by notifying all students, staff and visitors not to use the water. We did this by intercom and word of mouth. We also placed “Out of Order / Do not use” signs on each of the fountains and by word of mouth had the students and staff understand to not use the sinks to fill up water bottles either.

 

  • We provided our students, staff and visitors with bottled water and juices that could be found in the cafeteria and picked up by our students, staff and students between classes. The elementary students were able to come up to the cafeteria and acquire what they needed for the day as well.

 

  • We are in the process of seeing if we could add three five gallon water tank coolers through Pepsi Corporation, on a permanent basis for students, staff and visitors that would feel more comfortable drinking purified water.

 

  • We are working closely with the Testing Department of the Washington Department of Health and Anne Marie Charles in addressing this problem. We are in the process of working on permanent fixes for the 4 areas identified.

 

Why is lead a problem?

Children are exposed to lead from a variety of sources in their environments.  Exposure sources include dust from old, deteriorating lead paint, contaminated soil, take-home exposures from parents who work in certain industries, and many others.  Each of these sources contribute to the amount of lead in the bodies of children.

 

It is important to reduce exposure from every source as much as possible.  Children six years old and younger are the most susceptible to the effects of lead.  Their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.  Even at very low levels of exposure to lead, children may experience effects including lower IQ levels, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, poor classrooms performance, or other harmful physical and behavioral effects.

 

How can I learn more?

Water testing results are available at the district office and on our website at www.tucna.wednet.edu.  For more information about water quality in our schools, please contact Vance Wing at 509-438-3951.  If you are concerned that your child has been exposed to lead for any reason, ask your healthcare provider about having them screened for lead.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Vance Alan Wing

Superintendent

Washtucna Schools

“For the Kids”