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
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

ALERT: Spring PGCPS Water Testing Shows High Lead Levels in DOZENS of Schools

DO NOT DRINK THE WATER in PGCPS Schools!
unless you have confirmation it is lead free.
Talk to your child's doctor about getting a lead test done now. 
Recent Testing has found high levels of lead in PGCPS schools. 

We were just sent PGCPS lead water testing results from water testing done over the last few months after we filed a public information request. The test data we were sent confirms the fact that children and staff have been drinking water with lead levels that exceed EPA limits in many many schools. 

Why didn't PGCPS take action last year, when this issue came to light and parents began writing the county? Why did they wait? What aren't parents notified about this?

Please see the water testing results by clicking here. 
Read the letter that PGCPS sent me concerning these test levels.

Note, In their cover letter, PGCPS stated that some of these schools were on bottled water since 2009. This is noted with an asterix. We are not entirely sure this is the case because the bathroom sinks are still on and as far as we know there are not signs stating the water is for washing only.

HIGH LEAD LEVELS
Fort Washington forest *
Kenmoor*
Apple Grove Elementary,
Bond Mill Elementary*
C E Regional school,
Capitol Heights Elementary*
Chapel Forge,
Flintstone,

Frances Fuchs (PGCPS wrote me that this school was on bottled water since 2009)
Gaywood Elementary*,
Glassmaker Elementary,
Heather Hills *
Issac J Gourdine Middle *
Frank Dent Elementary,
James Duckworth Elementary,
Jessie B Mason*
John Howard Elementary*
Margaret Brent Regional*
Maya Angelou French Immersion, 
Montpelier Elementary *
Oxen Hill Elementary*
Riverdale Elementary,
Rock ledge High,
Samuel Chase Elementary,

Tall Oaks Vocational*

These schools have lead levels, however the county is NOT remediating them  because of their inadequate and outdated limits which still allow lead levels into the water. 
Judith Hoyer Early Childhood, Exel Academy*
John Hanson Montessori*
As the water was previously turned off we are not sure of now the water is back on?
Cool Springs Elementary and Deerfieldrun Elementay * had levels under 3 

Tests done but lead levels missing from the documents
Pointer Ridge, Potomac High, Robert Godard Elementary , Woodmore Elementary, Dora Kennedy French Immersion

See an example below of lead testing levels found at Maya Angelou French Immersion.



These schools are not the only schools that have lead contaminated water., they are simply the only schools PGCPS has recently tested.  See past lead testing at this link.

Fact: Dozens of other schools have high lead levels that the County HAS NOT addressed adequately. Testing has not been done in years for most PGCPS schools. See past test reports here. 

How do I read these results? 
After the school name you follow the row to the end where there are two columns of numbers, the first number is the lead level when the water was first tried on. The second number is the second water draw after the water ran for a bit. The number is in ppb meaning parts per billion. 

What is a high level? 
The EPA health standard is 0 ppb. Therefore anything over 0 is not safe. HOWEVER PGCPS is using a limit of 10 ppb  , meaning they are allowing up to 10 ppb in their water.

The PGCPS allowable lead level of 10 ppb is NOT safe. 

We do not know how they came up with such a number, Washington DC public schools only allows a lead level of up to 1 ppb.  Read more about lead limits and safety standards here. 

What can I do? 
Contact the county and ask for immediate action. Tell the there is no safe level of lead and they need to immediately act to do the following:
1. PGPCS should set the allowable lead limits to 0ppb.
2. PGCPS should provide unlimited accessible bottled water to all children while fixing the problem.
3. PGCPS should remediate all water sources to 0.
4. Ensure that signs are up in bathrooms and at every water source that has lead contamination so children know not to cup hands and drink water from any faucets which have lead levels above 0.
5. No water source should be used for drinking or food preparation UNLESS a current test shows there is is 0 lead. At this point we must assume all water is lead contaminated until documentation of safety is shown by a current 2017 test.
6.Go to your pediatrician and share the lead tests results from your child's school and get your child tested for lead levels if they have been drinking lead contaminated water.
7. Write your Councilperson, Board member and elected officials asking for immediate action and cc us at leadinpgcpswaterfountains@gmail.com 










Monday, May 22, 2017

Black Millennials for Flint: Official Testimony DC Council and Board of Education: Lead in Public Facilities


Black Millennials for Flint’s Official TestimonyDC Council Hearing: Lead in Public Facilities

June 22, 2016
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION and COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION & THE ENVIRONMENT TESTIMONY
Re: Lead Testing in Public Facilities
LaTricea Adams—President/Founder Black Millennials for Flint
Greetings Chairperson Grosso, Chairperson Cheh and other distinguished committee members.  I want to thank you for this opportunity to address Lead Testing in Public Facilities.
My name is LaTricea Adams, President and Founder of Black Millennials for Flint, a grassroots, environmental advocacy group with special interests in diminishing the occurrences of lead exposure.  
We are very concerned with the recent emergence of elevated lead levels that have surfaced at our schools in the District.  We come before you today to present viable solutions to ensure ALL of our children in the District of Columbia regardless of their neighborhood or socioeconomic status, have access to lead free drinking water in their schools.
We propose the following solutions:  
Fully accessible and comprehensive Water Sample Results
DC has an extremely diverse population of children and families from all parts of the world speaking many different languages representative of their respective native countries.  The water sample results presented on the Department of General Services website does not provide translated versions of the water sample results.  It is imperative that the water sample reports are translated for all the respective native languages of families who speak English as a second language and made available online just as the English versions.
Provide a detailed, public, and actionable timeline of remaining schools to be tested as well as transparency with re-testing statuses for schools with remediation plans for water sources exceeding the EPA recommended limit.
Develop a more user friendly, data visualization tool to present data results to the public outside of the tables provided in the current pdf files
Compare data between schools to assess the equity in the progress of deescalating the presence lead in drinking water
Establish parent and community meetings (not to exceed 48 hours after written communication has been distributed) after schools have been flagged as having water sources with elevated lead levels (this in addition to written communication sent home by students or posted online)
There should also be translators available to provide an equitable opportunity to engage parents who speak English as a second language.  
Rigid Criteria for Remediation Strategies
Provide detailed information regarding the research-based quality of filters used
Provide immediate (not to exceed 48 hours) results of the quality of filtered water
Provide transparency regarding the source of the lead contamination included in the report (e.g. Determine if pipes from contaminated water sources are corrosive and may be contributing to the potential elevated lead levels)
Alternative Clean Water Accessibility
Provide water coolers (with paper cups to remain “green”) in areas in schools where water fountains are inaccessible
Thank you for your attention to this important issue and your commitment to the health and access to lead free water for all of our children in the District of Columbia.

Black Millennials for Flint’s District of Columbia State Board of Education Public Meeting Statement: 

Post-Lead Poisoning Treatment for DC Students

July 20, 2016
DC STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION PUBLIC MEETING
Re: Post-Lead Poisoning Treatment for DC Students
LaTricea Adams—President/Founder Black Millennials for Flint
Greetings DC Stateboard members.  I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak with you this evening regarding next steps regarding potential lead exposure of our children in the district.  
My name is LaTricea Adams, President and Founder of Black Millennials for Flint, a grassroots, environmental advocacy group with special interests in diminishing the occurrences of lead exposure.  
DC is no stranger to issues with water quality.  Between 2001-2004, DC water had startling lead levels when the Washington Aqueduct, which supplies city water, changed its treatment chemical from chlorine to chloramine which in turn caused pipes to corrode, allowing lead to leach from the city’s older pipes into the water supply. We are heartbroken that 15 years later the issue has emerged once again—putting our children at risk of an array of critical health issues.  
Lead is particularly dangerous for children under the age of 6 (but a health risk for all despite age). Exposure to high lead levels in a short period of time is called acute toxicity. Exposure to small amounts of lead over a long period of time is called chronic toxicity.
Lead poisoning can lead to a variety of health problems in children, including:
  • decreased bone and muscle growth
  • poor muscle coordination
  • damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and/or hearing
  • speech and language problems
  • developmental delay
  • seizures and unconsciousness (in cases of extremely high lead levels)
While we are champions in support of the recent bill proposed by Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh in which the Washington City Papers quotes her as stating:
“In order to maintain their certifications, the facilities would have to demonstrate to the District proof of compliance. Lead tests would be required annually; the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, which oversees child development facilities, would manage a new fund to help sites install filters if it were to pose "an undue financial hardship.”
“Children in the District of Columbia deserve access to safe, clean drinking water, and it is time for the government to adopt a proactive, rather than reactive, strategy towards lead control in our public water sources,” Cheh said in a statement. “To ensure immediate communication with parents and community members"—a lack of which D.C. officials acknowledged when the lead levels came to light—"test results must be posted within five business days. With these new regulations, we are not only setting a national standard but are remedying previous shortcomings in protecting District children.”
The part of Councilwoman Cheh’s statement that resonates with us the most this evening is “…remedying shortcomings in protecting District children.” What resources, programs, and the like will be provided to children who may have already been substantially exposed to lead?  According to a statement from a licensed pediatrician at the June 2016 DC Council Public Hearing regarding Lead in Public Facilities, depending on the length of time of initial exposure to lead and the actual lead screening, the test may not adequately demonstrate an accurate lead toxicity level due to lead being absorbed in the bones.  What policies are in place or are being discussed to ensure that the District is doing their due diligence to ensure ALL children have been properly evaluated (not just with a routine screening) and that proper recourse is taken? How is the State Board of Education been working in tangent with DC Council to ensure that any recommendations for policy addresses the whole child?  Though research supports that lead exposure is not reversible, there are several actions that can prevent some of the major side effects of lead exposure/poisoning.  
We are asking for support from the DC State Board of Education to consider the following recommendations for policy regarding post-lead poisoning treatment for any child in the District (including the span of students covered under IDEA):  
  • Encourage a school lunch regimen for all LEAs (including DCPS and Charters) to include foods that are rich in the nutrients which fight lead poisoning
  • Encourage LEAs to provide additional wraparound services specifically for families with students diagnosed with development delay (limited to students under the age of 7), emotional disturbance, intellectual disability, or other specific learning disabilities (or students with a 504 plan that outlines health conditions that trace back to lead poisoning) [the aforementioned diagnoses are most commonly effects of lead poisoning]
  • Collect and closely monitor the proportionality of suspensions (and expulsions) of students within the aforementioned special population in comparison to the general population for all DCPS and DC Public Charter Schools
  • Work closely with DC Council, the Office of the State Superintendent, and if possible, the DC Department of General Services to ensure there is alignment in recommendations for policy as well as congruency in communication to parents and families
  • Potentially amend the current LEA Report Card criteria to include aspects outlined in DC Councilwoman Cheh’s prospective bill to assess each LEA’s progress and commitment to addressing both preventative and restorative actions in regards to lead exposure
Thank you for your attention to this important issue and your commitment to the health and access to lead free water for all of our children in the District of Columbia.
Sincerely,
LaTricea Adams, MAT, EdS
President/Founder
Black Millennials for Flint

Please learn more about Black Millennials for Flint
Black Millennials For Flint (#BM4F) is a grassroots,
environmental justice and civil rights organization with the purpose of bringing like-minded organizations
together to collectively take action and advocate against the crisis of lead exposure specifically in
African American & Latino communities throughout the nation.

Read the official letter they submitted with the Sierra Club to DC Council  

Check out the following links from their testimony before DC Council & DC State Board of Education

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Mother's Story of Child Injured by Mold at PGCPS District Heights Elementary School

A Mother's Story of Child Injured by Mold at PGCPS District Heights Elementary School

Grandmothers Story District Heights Elementary Safe Schools

Testimony on Lead, Mold, Cell Towers and Administrative Leave at PGCPS Board of Education

At the May 11, 2017 Board of Education meeting teachers, staff and parents testified for immediate action to fix the environmental health issues.















Wednesday, May 10, 2017

District Heights Elementary School Has Mold And Unhealthy Air Quality

District Heights Elementary School Mold/Air Assessment Shows The Air was Unhealthy and Not Safe! 

PGCPS is not informing the community about the carbon dioxide levels and is relying on outdated laws that do not ensure school air is safe fir children are staff. In the press releases dated April 6 2017 and April 21, 2017 PGCPS left out important information.

Facts and Documentation


PGCPS released a April 18, 2017 air quality report on District Heights Elementary. Earlier they released a April 4 2017 air quality report . 


Findings Include:

1. Carbon Dioxide levels are too HIGH with several above 1000 and above 900! 
  • The April 18, 2017 air quality report  hows that in four District Heights classrooms Classroom 2, Classroom 5, Classroom 7, Classroom M19. Carbon Dioxide levels were found be  above 900 in Classroom 1, Classroom PreK Classroom 2, Classroom 11, Classroom 13, Classroom 15, Classroom 10. 
  • The April 4 2017 air quality report shows the amount of Carbon Dioxide was also at very very HIGH levels: Classroom K2 had from 1,287 ppm, Classroom 10 had 1,892, Classroom 7B had 2,200 and Classroom 4 had 2,346 ppm.  The background outside air level was 466 ppm!
2. Black Mold was found. 
400 m3 of Stachybotrys was found in room M-18 according to the April 18, 2017 Report (see page 22). Stachybotrys is considered a toxic black mold and was not found in the outside air according to the test results. Therefore it must have come from an inside mold problem. note: The earlier report dated April 4th also found Stachybotrys but at a lower level of 40 m3.

If you disturb the contaminated areas with this type of mold,  the dust created can increase exposure to the fungus and its metabolites. Could that be why the level went from 40 to 400 in just a few weeks and the 400 level was found when- according to the report- work was being done in the room? Was care taken to prevent the dust from going into other classrooms. 


According to the CDC, "In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children."

3. Several mold species were present in District Heights Classrooms which can cause asthma like symptoms. 
Testing from both reports shows molds such as  Myxomycetes, Pithomyces, Cladosporium and Dicyma. Classroom 4 had the worst air quality in the first report.

4. Toxic chemicals used in the building has sickened staff and children: Staff and parents are reporting that when contractors came into to "clean" the mold a chemical smell went through the entire building and made people lightheaded and sick. Apparently, the air handler was on and brought the strong chemicals into EVERY room in the building. Cleaning chemicals for mold can be toxic and they should not have been used with children in the building. 

5. Pictures from the school clearly show mold and neglect. Please notice the very very dirty filter from the air handler? Does this seem healthy to you?  Take a look at the mold. Does this seem healthy to you ? 










Read the April 18, 2017 Report Here
Read the April 4 2017 air quality report 



What Parents and Staff Need To Know:

 Carbon Dioxide levels over 900ppm are too high and unhealthy.  

Contrary to PGCPS conclusions of safety in the building, research shows that high levels of carbon dioxide effects brain function, attention, memory and concentration.  A Harvard School of Public Health study found that high CO2 levels -in the 1,000 parts per million concentration like in District Heights classrooms have a direct and negative impact on human cognition and decision-making. They found that, on average, a typical participant’s cognitive scores dropped 21 percent with a 400 ppm increase in CO2. 

"Our findings show impacts above the 95th percentile of CO2 (945 ppm) "
" Evidence mounts for CO2 as a direct pollutant, not just a marker for other pollutants (Satish et al. 2012). We found statistically significant declines in cognitive function scores when CO2 concentrations were increased to levels that are common in indoor spaces (approximately 950 ppm). 
Read the study here. 

Research shows inadequate classroom ventilation, as evidenced by CO2 concentration exceeding 1000 ppm is  associated with reduced school attendance. Read the study here. 

How long have children and staff been breathing this air?
Why isn't clean air a priority in PGCPS school? 


A study of the respiratory health of 4,600 children from six cities in the northeast USA demonstrated that the presence of mold and dampness in the homes were correlated to several respiratory symptoms as well as a number of non-respiratory symptoms. The effect was of similar dimension to parental smoking (Brunekreef et al., 1989). Two studies involving 15,000 children and 18,000 adults from 30 communities in Canada came to similar conclusions. The authors concluded that a non-allergenic mechanism was involved. A dose-effect was also seen in that more visible mold yielded more symptoms. 
Overall the mold contamination was associated with a 50% increase in asthma and a 60% increase in upper respiratory disease (Dales et al., 1991a; 1991b). A large European study (Zock et al., 2002) including 38 study centres worldwide and 19,000 adults concluded that indoor mold growth has an adverse effect on adult asthma. Reported mold exposure in the last year was associated with asthma symptoms and bronchial responsiveness (OR range, 1.14-1.44). This effect was homogeneous among centers and stronger in subjects sensitized to Cladosporium species. As in the Canadian studies, the authors concluded that both allergic and non-allergic mold related effects were involved in the health outcomes. There is some evidence that exposure to environmental molds may play a role in asthma-related mortality (Targonski et al., 1995).


There're no federal standards for "safe" levels of mold. So when PGCPS states it is not breaking any standard, that is because standards are not set that have considered these health effects. 


Q and A on Air Quality
What constitutes a “safe” level of mold? 
In an air sample, mold counts should be equal to or below outdoor counts. There should be no stachybotrys. Not one spore. Aspergillus should be present only at negligible levels. The standard in Belgium requires no more than 2 1/2 percent aspergillus in the total count. However in District Heights Classroom 4 had 8% for example, much higher than Belgium allows.

Why is mold a problem? 

Stachybotrys and other mold may produce several toxic chemicals called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins can be present in spores and small mold fragments released into the air. Once in the air, children and teachers and staff may breathe them into their lungs and have symptoms.

Why do we call this "toxic"? 
Because any exposure that causes memory problems or brain problems or increased asthma issues is toxic! Kids cannot learn in toxic environments. Kids cannot learn when they are having respiratory issues.









Research Cited

Harvard Study Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers



Carbon dioxide toxicity and climate change: a serious
unapprehended risk for human health
Carbon dioxide toxicity and climate change: a serious
unapprehended risk for human health
Classroom carbon dioxide concentration, school attendance, and educational attainment.

Effects of toxic exposure to molds and mycotoxins in building-related illnesses.

Basidiomycete mycelia and spore-allergen extracts: skin test reactivity in adults with symptoms of respiratory allergy.

Sensitization to Airborne Ascospores, Basidiospores, and Fungal Fragments in Allergic Rhinitis and Asthmatic Subjects 

Neurobehavioral and pulmonary impairment in 105 adults with indoor exposure to molds compared to 100 exposed to chemicals.




"A number of studies have identified COassociated symptoms and respiratory diseases such as sneezing, rales, wheezing, rhinitis, and asthma (Carreiro-Martins et al. 2014; Ferreira and Cardoso 2014). Other symptoms, cough, headache, and irritation of mucous membranes, were also identified (Ferreira and Cardoso 2014). Lack of concentration was associated with COconcentrations above 1000 ppm. Gaihre et al. (2014) found that COconcentrations exceeding 1000 ppm is associated with reduced school attendance. Teachers also report neuro- physiologic (i.e., headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating) symptoms at COlevels greater than 1000 ppm (Muscatiello et al. 2015)."
P.N. Bierwirth, PhD Read it here.