District speeds up timetable for testing lead levels in school water

After a prolonged push from advocates, activists, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the District announced today that it will accelerate the process of testing the lead level of each drinking water outlet in every school and will modify its testing methods. The testing will be completed in June 2017, taking less than a year instead of 18 months as originally planned.

The District plans to retest the drinking water every four years.

“Testing for lead concentration, installing hydration stations, and promoting education on healthy lifestyles continue to remain key aspects of our plan,” said District Chief Operating Officer Fran Burns. “As part of that commitment, we are not only dramatically accelerating our water-testing timeline, but expanding our lead water testing to add additional outlets throughout schools, including nurse’s offices and cold water kitchen sinks.”

District spokesman Kevin Geary said the new testing protocol would not include flushing — running the outlet for eight hours before testing — in order to finish the testing faster. Geary said this will probably lead to a larger portion of outlets failing to pass the safe threshold.

The initial round of tests found that nearly 15 percent of water outlets tested in the first 22 schools had lead levels above the District’s threshold. That testing covered 361 fountains and found 49 with lead levels above 15 parts per billion. Each fountain that was over the safety limit was shut off immediately.

From: District speeds up timetable for testing lead levels in school water
By: Greg Windle
Photo: Kelpfish/Bigstock

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