Tuesday, October 3, 2017

News Stories on Prince George's County Lead in Classroom Water

7 on Your Side has done two stories on lead contamination in PGCPs water. Watch the two stories here.

April 29, 2017: 7 ON YOUR SIDE asks Prince George's County Public Schools: 'What's in the water?

June 26, 2017 WJLA News

7 ON YOUR SIDE: PG County schools still have lead in water, tests show

Dr. Lambrinidou Ten Myths About Lead: Below 15 ppt is NOT SAFE

Myth 1: Tap water that tests below 15 parts per billion (ppb) lead is safe for drinking and cooking. 

Fifteen ppb lead is a technical threshold that was developed and adopted to act as a trigger for water utility compliance with regulatory requirements (Pupovac 2016). It was not meant as a health-based standard. In infants, for example, lead-in-water levels below 15 ppb have been predicted to raise blood lead levels in at least a small percentage of the exposed population (Triantafyllidou, Gallagher, & Edwards 2014). For lead in drinking water, the health-based goal set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is zero ppb (EPA 2017), and the recommended healthprotective standard set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for lead in water in schools is 1 ppb (AAP 2016). 

It is also important to note that lead levels in drinking water tend to fluctuate. Any lead-bearing plumbing component can release dramatically different concentrations of lead at different times and under different conditions. According to a recent study, “To adequately characterize whether water in a given home with lead plumbing is truly safe, a very high number of samples would have to be collected under a range of flow conditions” (Masters et al. 2016:13). Standard lead-in-water testing, however, involves one or, at most, two samples from a tap, and routinely misses worst-case lead levels. It is, therefore, possible that a drinking water outlet measuring below 15 ppb one time will dispense lead in the hundreds and thousands ppb at other times (Triantafyllidou & Edwards 2012). 

For these two reasons – the toxicity of even low levels of lead in water and the fact that our testing methods are not designed to capture worst-case lead in drinking water – a tap measurement below 15 ppb does not signify that the water is safe for drinking or cooking. Yet the 15 ppb myth is perpetuated even by leading public health institutions like the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Myth 2: Tap water that meets federal lead-in-water requirements is safe for drinking and cooking. 

In the US, federal lead-in-water requirements are embodied in the EPA regulation called the Lead and Copper Rule. For a city’s tap water to meet Lead and Copper Rule requirements, water utilities must take one sample from one tap at a small number of “high-risk” homes known to have either a lead service line (i.e., the pipe that connects a house to the water main under the street) or other lead-bearing plumbing prone to leach lead.

For many major metropolitan utilities, for example, the minimum number of tap samples required from the entire system is as low as 50. If 90% or more of the samples collected measure below 15 ppb, the utility is LEAD Action News Volume 18 Number 2 October 2017 Page 9 of 43 deemed “in compliance” with the Lead and Copper Rule. Lead and Copper Rule compliance allows for up to 10% of taps to dispense any concentration of lead whatsoever. For example, in the latest Lead and Copper Rule test results it made public (July-Dec 2015), the Washington DC water utility took one sample from one tap at 110 homes and achieved regulatory compliance with the following results: 59 homes measured at 0 ppb; 50 homes measured between 1-8 ppb; and 1 home measured at 1,269 ppb.

In other words, even when water utilities comply with the Lead and Copper Rule, the consumers they serve can experience both chronic and acute exposures to lead, without triggering a regulatory violation. Despite this fact, the EPA allows water utilities to declare their water “safe” for drinking and cooking, simply because they meet regulatory requirements (Q&A session, EPA Lead and Copper Rule stakeholder workshop, Washington DC, October 14-15, 2008).

Read it in full in the newsletter

Sunday, September 24, 2017

PGCPS Letter To Parents and Staff on Sept 21, 2017 Misinforms About Lead In Water Contamination

PGCPS sent out the following letter to staff last week. Read it below this post or link here. 

1. Sinks in bathrooms will have signs telling students and staff not to drink the water. 
2. The County is understanding that the community is aware that there are unsafe lead levels in the water and that children and staff have been drinking this water. 

1. The information glosses over the fact that the water instill contaminated with lead and children have been exposed to unsafe levels. 
2. The County still refuses to adequately address the lead contamination by setting a safe level in the water. They still allow 10 ppb lead in the water. They SHOULD be allowing only 0 ppb of lead in the water. No amount of lead is safe for children. Read about safe water levels here. 

1. The county is posting what one could argue is false information. 

  • Misleading Statement: The County states "Sources have been turned off as a precautionary measure when major concerns arose over the quality of drinking water."  This is an inaccurate way of describing the situation and avoids the fact that sources were turned off because high lead levels were found.  Sources were turned off because lead in excess of EPA regulations was found. See the documentation of high lead levels on this page with all the lead testing information. 
  • Misleading Statement: PGCPS sent out a press release entitled, " PGCPS Continues Testing to Ensure Safe Drinking Water in All Schools and Offices" This could be considered false. There are no assurances of safe drinking water. Safe drinking water is not ensures. The headline should read "PGCPS Continues Testing of Drinking Water in All Schools and Offices And Has Found Lead Contamination: Many Water Sources Remain Untested And Could Be Lead Contaminated. Parents Should Get Children Lead Tested" 
  • Inadequate Signage: The signs are really not adequate and could be done in a way that reaches the students like a cartoon image with an x over a person drinking the water. Kindergarteners do not read. The ALL CAPS is not the best way to to relay the information. More thought and creativity needs to go into these important signs. 

When will Prince George's County be honest with the students, staff and parents ? 
  1. When the County inform the PGCPS community that many sources which have been on for years are lead contaminated and were only recently tested? Children have been drinking lead contaminated water for years. 
  2. When the County inform the PGCPS community that many sources which are still on are lead contaminated? They have not been tested yet at the county is leaving them on. PGCPS is currently allowing children to drink lead contaminated water because these sources are not yet tested. 
  3. When the County inform the PGCPS community that they have set an "allowable lead in water limit" of 10 ppb based on no science whatsoever?  PGCPS should informing the  community that the EPA has a health standard for lead which is below 0 ppb. PGCPS should informing the  community that the American Academy of Pediatrics has a health recommendation for lead which is  0 ppb. PGCPS allows 10 ppb of lead in water, ten times the safe health level by the EPA and American Academy of Pediatrics. (Read more here) 
See what was sent to students and staff here. The link shows the PDF but I could not download it. See screensaves below. 

    Monday, July 24, 2017

    John Hanson Montessori PTSA Tells PGCPS That Not Informing Parents About Lead Levels is "Negligent"

    Breaking: The PTSA of  John Hanson Montessori has written PGCPS Schools about the lead contaminated water calling for answers. 

    The PTSA asks why the county’s school system has set a level of 10 ppb to be deemed safe for consumption when the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that drinking fountains should have 0 ppb and water sources that test at 1 ppb or higher should be remediated. 

    The letter states, "We have students as young as 3 years- old who attend our school."

    "The AAP states infants to 6 year olds are the most vulnerable for adverse health effects due to lead toxicity. What is most concerning is that in 2010 the PTSA Executive Board requested water testing at the John Hanson facility, which the school system outsourced to Global Consulting Inc. According to the November 1st, 2010 report, only two out of the 10 water sources tested contained lead , which were 1 ppb and 2.9 ppb. Please explain how the number of water sources containing lead has quadrupled in less than seven years. As a parent body, we find it egregious that routine water testing is not conducted in a facility that was built in 1956." 

    "Furthermore, not informing parents about the increased number of water sources containing lead at John Hanson Montessori is negligent."  

    They also call out what seems to be an inaccurate statement by the County because a PGCPS letter stated that John Hanson Montessori was "on bottled water." However this is not what parents report at the school. 

    "The school system has never provided bottled water for the student body and communication has never been relayed to the families of the estimated 500 students that our children should drink bottled water only. In fact, the PTSA Executive Board has a letter from 2010 from the school system, after concerns were raised because brown water was coming from drinking fountains, that the water is safe." 

    They ask for a "step by step remediation plan prior to the school year commencing" 
    They state they will  "direct the parents of the John Hanson Montessori community to have their children’s blood tested for elevated lead levels especially those who have been attending since 2009."

    Wednesday, June 28, 2017

    DC Government uses Lead limit of 1 ppb. Why is PGCPS using a limit of 10 ppb?

    PGCPS uses a lead limit of 10 ppb in the water. See below a press release from DC  which uses a limit of 1 ppb. Why is PGCPS using lead limit 10 times higher? 

    District Government Adopts New Lead Testing Policy

    Tuesday, June 21, 2016
    District agencies will support newly released American Academy of Pediatrics action threshold 
    (Washington, DC) – Today, Deputy City Administrator Kevin Donahue announced that the Department of General Services will move to incorporate a 1 PPB (part-per-billion) action level for lead tests on drinking water sources in District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) centers. The effort comes on the heels of last week’s report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Prevention of Childhood Lead Toxicity, that lead testing resulting in a reading of more than 1 PPB should be immediately remediated.  
    “Lead exposure in children is preventable, and we will be working diligently to set policy at our facilities that goes far beyond EPA standards,” said Kevin Donahue, Deputy City Administrator. “By investing the time, training, and resources to follow the new recommendations outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics, we will ensure that the District continues to do everything it can to protect our children, and limit students’ exposure to lead.”
    Under the current operating policy, drinking water sources in District public schools and recreation centers testing at or above 15 PPB are fitted with a filter or taken out of operation. The sources are returned to operation once follow-up testing yields a clean reading. Following recent findings of lead in water at a small number of schools, District officials completed testing of all water sources at every single District of Columbia Public School and recreation center, per the direction of Mayor Muriel Bowser. This newly implemented policy will bring a more rigorous approach to the testing. 
    The new policy is estimated to cost the District nearly $2 million at the onset, which includes the installation of filters on all drinking water sources at public schools, public libraries, and recreation centers. Implementation is expected to be completed this calendar year. The District will also work with District of Columbia Public Charter Schools and District of Columbia Public Libraries to install filters on drinking water sources. The expected annual cost of $1.5 million will support regular testing, maintenance, and supplies for District of Columbia Public Schools and recreation centers.
    This policy is slated to be included in Deputy City Administrator Donahue’s testimony before the Council of the District of Columbia’s Committees on Education and Transportation and the Environment on Wednesday, June 22. For more information on lead testing and exposure in the District visit

    Friday, June 23, 2017

    Key Documents Concerning Lead in PGCPS Water

    Lead in Water Test Results from Prince George’s County Schools

    !!!UPDATED: Lead Test Results Dated September 2017

    Lead Test Reports From Testing in Spring 2017
    2011 -2012 PGCPS Lead Level testing
    PGCPS Lead Testing Done in 2014  
    Key Documents
    September 7, 2016: PGCPS Response to my question about remediation and their attached Document entitled Lead in Water Program PGCPS