University City School District spokeswoman Pat Washington said Wednesday that after testing every drinking source in every district building, two water fountains at University City High School and one sink each at Brittany Woods Middle School, Flynn Park Elementary Barbara C. Jordan Elementary and the McNair Administration Center have been shut off because they tested higher for lead than the Environmental Protection Agency’s benchmark of 15 parts per billion.
“The only drinking fountains were I believe the two at the high school. And those were decommissioned immediately,” Washington said. “They are in sections of the high school that are not used very much. You know, it’s a big old building.”
University City is one of several area districts that began testing their water sources for lead after St. Louis Public Schools found elevated lead levels in 88 district water fountains and sinks.
The highest concentration of lead found in the University City district was a sink at the administrative building with 144 parts per billion. A water fountain at the high school clocked in at more than 90 parts per billion, and a sink at Barbara C. Jordan had almost 79 parts per billion.
Washington said fixtures and piping are being replaced as needed, and the water sources will be retested to make sure the lead levels have gone done before they are put back in use.
“In some buildings it might just be a fixture that we’re replacing. In some buildings it might be we have to replace a whole sink, meaning the faucet and the piping leading out to the street. But our strategy is better to replace more than we think we need to replace than skimp on that process,” Washington said.
“I think it’s important for everyone to know that there aren’t any state or federal guidelines requiring routine testing of water for school districts, but we are working with (school contractors PSI) to proactively identify what might be a best practice in terms of just regular maintenance and routine testing for our water samples,” Washington added.
A statement from the district said University City will test building with elevated lead levels every year and the other buildings will be tested every two years. Water sources that have been replaced or repaired will also undergo testing.
Babies, young children and pregnant women are at the most risk for lead exposure. Health consequences for elevated lead levels include reduced IQs, behavioral changes and altered brain development.
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