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Call for Action investigates lead levels in school water

Published: Sep. 25, 2018 at 3:06 PM MDT
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The 11 Call for Action team is looking into the drinking water at our local schools. We started asking questions after a recent report that

because the water tested so high for lead.

We found out many of our local schools do not test their water for lead and the law does not even require them to, unless they use well water. Still, some are taking it upon themselves, and we are digging through those results.

Lead is a toxic metal that can build up in your body over time. There is no safe level, and even low levels can have a big impact on kids. Water leaving our local treatment facilities is required to be tested by law. But what happens in the piping of some of our local schools is not necessarily being detected.

We submitted an open records request to our local school districts to find out who has done testing, and what they found.

The

says lead levels should not exceed more than 15 parts per billion (ppb). To put that in perspective, that's equal to 15 drops of ink in a backyard swimming pool. We found several schools in our area that tested well above that.

In Pueblo's School District 60, the cafeteria at East High School clocked in at 95.7 ppb. The district said they added a filtration system to fix it. The school district has a list of several test results on their website.

to see the reports.

Over at Harrison's School District 2, results at Bricker Elementary came in at more than 16 times the EPA's standard. A sink faucet tested at 245 ug/L (microgram per liter). One part per billion is equal to one microgram per liter.

The district said they replaced the faucet. The levels came down, but it still tested higher than the EPA's guideline. It came in at 31.3 ug/L so the district posted a sign that says not to drink from the faucet.

"It was built in 1980 and we just think that perhaps we got a bad shipment, or the quality control on the faucets when they built it was not the same as the rest of the faucets that we found throughout the district," said Mark Wilsey, the Operations Services Officer for Harrison School District 2.

Wilsey said they replaced several other faucets, which brought other high levels in the school down to safe levels. "We weren't required to test. We just took it upon ourselves to be proactive," said Wilsey.

Some of the highest levels we found are in School District 11. A science room faucet at Roy J. Wasson Academic Campus came in at 466 ug/L.

Over at Russell Middle School, a classroom faucet came in at more than 112 times the EPA standard. The test came back at 1,690 ug/L.

"When they did that test was when we came back from summer break and I think a lot of that came from the pipes being sedentary and not having that flush done on those pipes," said Devra Ashby, the Public Information Officer for Colorado Springs School District 11. "They were capped off and not utilized, or put into use as only hand washing facilities."

The district said they have plans to replace all of the pipes in both buildings this fall. "Just because we have schools that are older, we're always looking for those types of things," said Ashby. "Ultimately, what we want to do is keep kids safe."

The El Paso County Health Department said the effects from lead can be devastating. "What we see with children is that it can lead to delayed development, both cognitively and physically, which reduces children's IQ," said Tom Gonzales, the Deputy Director of the El Paso County Health Department.

Again, we did not get the results from every school district because some of them do not test, and they are not required to do so.

Just last year, state lawmakers passed a bill that gives some school districts grant money to help pay for lead testing.

to learn more about the program.

If you want to know if your child's school tests for lead, you can reach out to your school board or to the district.

If you want to test the water in your home for lead,

to find out more information from the El Paso County Health Department. It is especially important if you have an older home, anything built before 1986.