Adirondack Environmental Services, Inc. collected water samples at Watervliet Elementary School (WES) on October 26, 2020 and at Watervliet Jr.-Sr. High School (WJSHS) on October 28, 2020 as part of regularly scheduled testing for lead levels in water potentially used for drinking or cooking. New York State requires all public schools to conduct water testing for lead every five years or sooner if directed by the state Department of Health. Watervliet last completed water testing in our schools in 2016, when the law was first enacted.
In accordance with the law, samples from 103 water outlets at WES and 103 water outlets at the WJSHS were tested. These samples were sent to a state-approved laboratory to test lead levels. District officials received the water test results from this laboratory on November 5, 2020 for the Elementary School and on November 6, 2020 for the Jr.-Sr. High School.
One (1) location at WES showed elevated lead levels exceeding the “action level” of 15 parts per billion (ppb). That location – a sink in the elementary school’s main office – has been turned off and marked out of service until a replacement faucet and pipe can be installed and another test run prior to it being used again. This work will be completed in the next 60 days. View WES water testing results
Two (2) locations in WJSHS have shown to have lead levels exceeding the “action level.” One located on the 1st floor, in the space that was once the Athletic Director’s office bathroom, has been permanently shut down. The second location is in an office bathroom on the 2nd floor that has a sign indicating the water is not to be used for drinking. View WJSHS water testing results
There are a few additional outlets in each building that will be tested in the future. The information will be posted to the district website when received.
If you have questions regarding 2020 water testing at our schools, please email the district’s Director of Accountability and Programs Kirsten DeMento.
More about Lead Testing of School Drinking Water
Safe and healthy school environments can foster healthy and successful children. To protect public health, the Public Health Law and New York State Health Department (NYSDOH) regulations require that all public schools and boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES) test lead levels in water from every outlet that is being used, or could potentially be used, for drinking or cooking. If lead is found at any water outlet at levels above 15 parts per billion (ppb), which is equal to 15 micrograms per liter (µg/L), the NYSDOH requires that the school take action to reduce the exposure to lead.
What is first draw testing of school drinking water for lead?
The “on-again, off-again” nature of water use at most schools can raise lead levels in school drinking water. Water that remains in pipes overnight, over a weekend, or over vacation periods stays in contact with lead pipes or lead solder and, as a result, could contain higher levels of lead. This is why schools are required to collect a sample after the water has been sitting in the plumbing system for a certain period of time. This “first draw” sample is likely to show higher levels of lead for that outlet than what you would see if you sampled after using the water continuously. However, even if the first draw sample does not reflect what you would see with continuous usage, it is still important because it can identify outlets that have elevated lead levels.
What are the health effects of lead?
Lead is a metal that can harm children and adults when it gets into their bodies. Lead is a known neurotoxin, particularly harmful to the developing brain and nervous system of children under 6 years old. Lead can harm a young child’s growth, behavior, and ability to learn. Lead exposure during pregnancy may contribute to low birth weight and developmental delays in infants. There are many sources of lead exposure in the environment, and it is important to reduce all lead exposures as much as possible. Water testing helps identify and correct possible sources of lead that contribute to exposure from drinking water.
What are the other sources of lead exposure?
Lead is a metal that has been used for centuries for many purposes, resulting in widespread distribution in the environment. Major sources of lead exposure include lead-based paint in older housing, and lead that built up over decades in soil and dust due to historical use of lead in gasoline, paint, and manufacturing. Lead can also be found in a number of consumer products, including certain types of pottery, pewter, brass fixtures, foods, plumbing materials, and cosmetics. Lead seldom occurs naturally in water supplies but drinking water could become a possible source of lead exposure if the building’s plumbing contains lead. The primary source of lead exposure for most children with elevated blood-lead levels is lead-based paint.
Should your child be tested for lead?
The risk to an individual child from past exposure to elevated lead in drinking water depends on many factors; for example, a child’s age, weight, amount of water consumed, and the amount of lead in the water. Children may also be exposed to other significant sources of lead including paint, soil and dust. Since blood lead testing is the only way to determine a child’s blood lead level, parents should discuss their child’s health history with their child’s physician to determine if blood lead testing is appropriate. Pregnant women or women of childbearing age should also consider discussing this matter with their physician.
For information about lead in school drinking water, visit:
For information about NYS Department of Health Lead Poisoning Prevention, visit: http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/lead/
For more information on blood lead testing and ways to reduce your child’s risk of exposure to lead, see “What Your Child’s Blood Lead Test Means”
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