Friday, August 17, 2018

PGCPS Water Testing Finds Dozens of PGCPS Water Lines Lead Contaminated

 PGCPS sent a list of lead testing and water faucet shut offs but forgot to include the prior testing (from 2004 to 2016) that documented these faucets were contaminated far earlier than 2017.


"I have attached a copy of the internal list of fountains shut off in PGCPS schools.  Please be advised that this document was initially developed to record information related to lead in water, but it is not publicly posted because it has not been not updated regularly or triple-checked for accuracy.  
The state's action level for remediation of drinking sources is set at 20 parts per billion.  However, PGCPS will continue to remediate drinking sources to be lower than 10 parts per billion and expand the information we maintain and report in compliance with recent State legislation and changes to State regulations.
Thank you, Demetria Tobias" 
See the full document here 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

PGCPS Refuses To Release Information on When Water Fountains Were Turned Off and Allows Lead Contamination in Water

PGCPS sent me a letter in response to my questions. Key takeaways from the letter include:

1. When asked for the list of water sources/fountains that are shut off with the date of the shut off PGCPS refused to provide the information and stated, "Response: The information requested is informally maintained in Building Services as an internal reference document only." 

2. Despite being informed that the EPA, California Department of Health  and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend under 1 ppb for lead contamination in water PGCPS stated that "Prince George’s County Public Schools will continue with the action level of 10 ppb." 

3. When asked why Glenridge Elementary had  special precautions taken such as all the water turned off, no matter what the lead level (unlike other schools whereto water was left on that was lead contaminated at between 1 and 10 ppb lead) the answer was"Glenridge's water being turned off was a decision made by building staff based on the situation at that time. This was a one time incident occurring at one school." 

4. When asked why parents are "not being informed of the lead levels" the answer was " Principals are notified by the Department of Building Services and provided the results of the testing." 

5. When asked why several schools lead in water test  results were not posted at PGCPS answered that thy would soon be posted. In fact they were posted at the end of March and they show Bowie High with several water sources that exceed the US EPA cut offs as well as that exceed the PGCPS limit. 
6. The County avoided answering several questions posed such as 

In conclusion, PGCPS  inaccuratly states that "students have access to safe drinking water through drinking sources that are "ten parts per billion" (referring to amount of lead contamination the county alllows) or less or though provided bottled drinking water." 

This statement of safety by PGCPS is inaccurate as lead in water is not safe and ten parts per billion is not safe according to the EPA, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC. There is no safe level of lead for children. 

We call on the County to inform parents of the lead levels their children have been exposed to and to reduce the allowable lead level to 0 ppb. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Letter to CEO Dr. Maxwell About Lead in PGCPS Water 2/26/2018

Dear CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell, 

I have been receiving more questions about lead in the school water from parents across the District.

I was looking at the PGCPS Water Quality page and saw that new lead in water tests were posted by PGCPS. More water sources were found to have lead. I very much appreciate that the county is taking more time to address this issue but far more needs to be done. I first raised this issue well over a year ago now and began my inquiries alongside other parents in January 2016. It is now February 2018 and their is still unsafe levels of lead in our water supply. 

Here are my questions about the school water lead levels now reported by the county.  

1. Where are the Fairmont Heights , the Ardmore, , the Henry Wise,  the Bowie High Annex-  lead in water 2018 PGCPS tests ? 
The document PGCPS placed online states that lead tests on these schools and others were done in 2018 but I cannot find any levels documented. The fields are blank. Can you update that spreadsheet found on this page to include the lead test numbers please 

2. Who made the decision for 10 ppb to be the PGCPS lead in water threshold? What staff? What is their expertise in the issue of children's health please? PGCPS is currently allowing 10ppb in the water and I and others would like documentation of how you came up with this number. What scientific documentation was used to recommend 10 ppb as the lead in water threshold for the school? Please share the medical documentation that supports the use of this threshold as well so the community can understand why the county is allowing this level of lead in the water. 

3. There are many times where a water tap showed high levels and then retests were done. Which test are you using for a cut off? Are you using the first or second draw  test? it is unclear from the spreadsheets that you posted. 

4. If a test shows a number over 10 ppb and then retests to a number  under the PGCPS threshold, what is your course of action? For example if a tap reads at 12ppb at first draw and then retests at 20 ppb.. what does pgcps do? Is the water turned off? 

5. Are parents being informed of the lead tests in these schools? I would like to share with you that in other states, parents are sent a paper that looks like this -Barryingtom Elementary School lead letter for parents and they are told the exact numbers of the exact taps. Why are PGCPS parents not receiving such letters in their school? Please explain why PGCPS is not informing parents of  the same information as given to parents in other school districts? 

6. Send me the current list of ALL the schools with water shut offs and specifically which fountains are being shut off in each school AND the date of shut off. I think the best way to do this is to integrate this information into the spreadsheet PDF of lead tests you have online on your water quality page. Please add date of water shut off or if the water source is left on please state "Water left on"  and have the date for each action right there next to the lead level numbers. . 

7. Are bathroom and kitchen taps being tested? Please confirm this because children often cup hands and drink from the sink. Some school lead tests are only like 7 taps so Im sure there are more water sources in the school. Where are these numbers? 

8. Some taps are testing at very high levels on the first draw but then going down on the second draw. 
For example a tap at Fort Washington Elementary tested at 1390 ppb in 008A on the first draw in  and then on the second draw it tested at 20.8. So the lead number had an over 1000 times variation just by virtue of timing. 
For example at tap at Rose Valley Elementary tested at 2830 ppb   on the first draw in  and then on the second draw it tested at 32.7  
For example a tap at Allen Wood Elementary tested at 60 ppb on the first draw in  and then on the second draw it tested at 10.9. 
Forest Heights Elem had a tap that read at 9480 and then on the second draw was 3260. These numbers are quite astounding. 
Forest Heights Elem also had  a tap that read at 11 800 and then on the second draw was 20.2 These numbers are quite astounding. 
Indian Queen  Elem had a tap that read at 192, 000 (yes, this is not a typo) and then on the second draw was 615. That is a 312 times decrease in lead in the water with the second draw. These numbers are quite astounding. 

The above information  shows the variations in lead levels depending on the time of the test. These variations are large. 

Some taps are testing at lower levels on the first draw but then the numbers went up the second draw. 
For example Doswell E Brooks room 023A had a first reading of 25.1 ppb and t went up to 226 ppb  on the second draw.  
For example Kettering Middle room 134A had a first reading of  44.5 and it went up to  309 on the second draw. 
For example a tap at University Park Elementary had a first reading of  94.5 and it went up to  159 on the second draw. 
For example a tap at Pointer Ridge Elementary had a first reading of  16.3 and it went up to 31.7 on the second draw. 

Thus, it seems safe to say that if lead is found, the number can vary widely depending on when the sample is taken. The number can be double, triple or even almost ten times more on the second draw- or less.  10 ppb as a threshold is not protective- even for that limit-  as the tap could read higher or lower at any time. We do not know when a child or pregnant woman could drink it. 

Can you respond this concern please. 

9. I am asking PGCPS to immediately update their threshold to 0ppb as the allowable amount of lead in the water. If a tap tests higher and has lead- then the water should be not used for drinking, signs should be placed at the source to inform children and staff. Taps should be tested at least two times. Fresh lead free water should be provided to the children and staff. Below is the documentation that supports this. Please respond as to why you have not taken these steps. We have been asking for over a year now. Thank you for your immediate consideration of this issue. 

The EPA, the American Academy of Pediatrics  and the CDC  state there is no safe level and 0 ppb is the health standard. This means only 0 ppt is safe. However current regulations do not enforce this health based standard. Instead the only law we have states that schools need to be under 20 ppt and water to homes needs to be 15ppb  and under . These 25 year old regulations do  not ensure safety for our school children.

0 ppb: EPA Health Limit- Maximum Contaminant Level Goal- A Health Standard- for Lead in Water Limit

below 1 ppb: American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends below  1 ppb for Schools.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Report on prevention of Lead Toxicity states "state and local governments should take steps to ensure water fountains in schools do not exceed water lead concentrations of 1ppb." Please download the AAP report by clicking here
0.2 ppt  California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (COEHHA)
The COEHHA revised the state's public health goal for drinking water to 0.2 parts per billion, a fraction of the threshold established by the EPA. "A revised Public Health Goal (PHG) of 0.2 ppb (or 0.2 µg/L) for lead in drinking water is established, on the basis of new studies relating neurobehavioral deficits to lower lead concentrations in the blood than previously reported."

10: The EPA states that 3Ts of adressing lead in schools are:
  • Training school officials to raise awareness of the potential occurrences, causes, and health effects of lead in drinking water; assist school officials in identifying potential areas where elevated lead may occur; and establishing a testing plan to identify and prioritize testing sites.
  • Testing drinking water in schools to identify potential problems and take corrective actions as necessary.
  • Telling students, parents, staff, and the larger community about monitoring programs, potential risks, the results of testing, and remediation actions.
"There is no safe level of lead exposure for children. Researchers have found that children can have health effects when exposed to even the lowest levels of lead, so it is critical to prevent exposure. Infants, young children and pregnant women are at greatest risk. Health effects can include damage to the brain and kidneys, reduced IQ and other behavioral and neurological impairments. The effects of lead have been linked to reduced performance in schools which compounds the disadvantages for children. Ensuring lead-free drinking water in schools helps not only the at-risk child but the entire school community. "

Read the EPA letter to the State of New York here that this quote is from here 

The letter states that the EPA has a voluntary program that guides schools and districts through the process of sampling, and communicating the results and remediating" Is PGCPS taking advantage of this program? 

11.  Scientific research shows that lead in combination with wireless radiation can exacerbate the effects of lead.
For example, Research investigating cell phone radiation in combination with the lead- which is a known neurotoxin- has found that children with blood lead levels had higher ADHD like symptoms if they also had higher cell phone use. This finding has lead the researchers to consider a potential synergetic effect between lead and radio frequency (RF) fields, meaning the RF exposure increased the effects from the lead exposure.  In fact, multiple research studies have found that electromagnetic fields such as Wi-Fi and cell phone radiation can increase the effects of a known toxic exposure.  Researchers have repeatedly found a tumor promotion effect from this type of radiation.

Radiofrequency wireless and cell phone radiation exposure has also been shown to affect the permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), as well as altering the expression of microRNA within the brain, which researchers state could lead to adverse effects such as neurodegenerative disease. When the BBB is more permeable, more toxins circulating in the blood can reach the brain- this applies to lead of course.

In 2009,  Dr. Leif Salford a neurosurgeon at Lund University Hospital  and Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery presented his published research studies that found blood-brain barrier (BBB) leakage after very very low levels of exposure to radiofrequency radiation. These studies have been confirmed and expanded on by researchers from China who concluded, “these results demonstrated that exposure to 900 MHz EMF radiation for 28 days can significantly impair spatial memory and damage BBB permeability in rat by activating the mkp-1/ERK pathway.”  

Therefore the combination of lead plus wireless could exacerbate the effects of lead in children, even at low levels and cause more damage to the brain. I have shared with you and the school board that over 150 doctors recommend that wireless exposure be reduced to pregnant women. Read more here
Currently many schools in internationally  are removing the wireless from schools and governments are issuing new directives to remove wireless radio frequency from schools. For example Cyprus has removed wireless from elementary schools. France has turned the Wi-Fi off as well so that OFF is the default setting. Many countries have banned Wi-Fi from kindergarten such as France, Israel, Ghent Belgium etc. Read about that here

12.   I understand that some schools have ALL water off in an abundance of caution even those taps that are lower than 10ppb. Yet in other schools these taps are left on under 10 ppb. I think this is not fair. All schools should be afforded this protection. 

For example, Glenridge Elementary had all the water  turned off- even before they had the water tested! (And when it was finally tested --many many faucets were found to be too high by the way. As I understand it, the decision to turn the water off was because a PG parks childcare was on site. There was concern that any lead could be unsafe so they took action proactively. The fact that ANY lead was found- be it at 7 or 8 was a potential problem for staff and it made sense to turn it all off. I did a public information request and found this out, as well as talk to staff.  Is this still the case? 
Why are Glenridge children  treated differently than other children in the PGCPS community? 

So please clarify why some schoolchildren are being afforded this protection of a 0 ppb lead threshold and other  school children have the 10 ppb threshold for PGCPS action. Please also send me the list of schools that are using the 0ppb as a threshold. 

13. Families Against Chemical Toxins has offered to help by paying for filtered water sources in schools that are experiencing lead in their water See . Can this be offered to schools that want to ensure healthy drinking water in their schools? I was contacted by the organization. 

14,  Some parents have told me that their children are NOT getting access to drinking water all day. Children must have unrestricted access to safe water throughout the day. Please state in the spreadsheet what the plan is for each school in terms of providing safe drinking water for each school. 

Children and pregnant teachers and staff are most at risk from lead exposure. There is no safe level of lead. Please ensure the drinking water is safe by lowering the lead threshold to 0ppb and ensuring children and staff have access to water throughout the day. 

Please inform the parents and teachers and fully share information about this process by sending a letter home with the lead readings to the parents of each school. We need more information as to hat is being done in each school.

Thank you so much for your attention and thoughtful consideration of this matter. I look forward to the answers to these questions. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

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. 
Read it at " Dr Lambrinidou Ten Myths About Lead 

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Oakland California: Calling for Safe Water in Taps


East Bay Times "It could cost Oakland schools 

$38 million to fix lead contamination"

OAKLAND — Oakland Unified estimates it will cost $38 million to address high lead levels in water taps at its schools.
Excerpts from the article
"...Advocates have urged the district to go beyond the federal guidelines and replace fixtures that have lead levels exceeding one part per billion. The American Academy of Pediatrics has deemed fixtures with any more than one part per billion of lead to be dangerous for children. Oakland pediatrician Dr. Noemi Spinazzi, at a press conference in November, said lead “mimics iron and calcium, which growing children need.” Children’s bodies can absorb a lot of lead, which stores in the bones, liver, blood and brain. It can lead to anemia, poor growth, fatigue, learning difficulties and even lower IQ levels and developmental delays, she said.
Jason Pfeifle, a health advocate for consumer group CalPIRG, delivered a petition to the school board at its Jan. 24 meeting signed by more than 1,000 people urging the district to adopt a policy that would require every water tap in the school district to be tested and for the district to not allow more than one part per billion of lead in the taps.
“Lead is extremely harmful to children’s health. Even small exposures to lead can do permanent damage to their cognitive development,” Pfeifle said at the meeting." 

New PGCPS Tests Find Endemic Lead in School Water Supply!

Sadly, PGCPS has released even more lead in water tests in 2018 and they show many school water taps that have high lead levels. This is unacceptable.

All water should be turned off, until it is proven that the water is lead free by testing the water.

Any taps with lead levels should be turned off. The county is stating they will keep water sources that have an under  10 ppb lead level turned on and only fix those with a lead level above 10 ppb. That is not safe! Why are they allowing so much lead in the water?

Examples of some super high lead levels.

1570 ppb in Clinton Grove Elementary School!!!!!!!!

Clinton Grove Elementary (CGES)
Hollywood Elementary (HOES)
Howard B. Owens Science Center (HBSC)
Howard B. Owens Science Center (HBSC)
Judith P. Hoyer Montessori @ Oakcrest (OCJH)
Oaklands Elementary (OKES)
Oaklands Elementary (OKES)
Waldon Woods Elementary (WWES)
Oxon Hill Elementary (OHES)
Oxon Hill Elementary (OHES)
Princeton Elementary (PCES)
Princeton Elementary (PCES)
Princeton Elementary (PCES)
Princeton Elementary (PCES)
Princeton Elementary (PCES)
John E. Howard ES (JEHS)
John E. Howard ES (JEHS)

See the new lead tests here.
Water Testing Results January 16, 2018

The January tests reveal that these schools have harmful brain damaging lead in the water.
Seat Pleasant Elementary, Walker Middle, Whitehall Elementary, Marlton Elementary, Lamont, Imagine Foundation, Concord, Foote, Calverton, Bond Hill, Barnaby Manor, Accokeek Academy, Bowie High ,Kettering, Martin Luther King Junior, Oaklands Elem, Potomac High, Vansville,  has very high lead levels AND MORE

When you read these tests pleas note that "first draw" number indicates that the first test found lead is in the system. The second draw might be lower but that does not mean the water is safe by any means. Large chunks or small chunks can come off anytime. This means the water is NOT safe.
The only safe level of lead is ZERO.