Monday, November 13, 2017

What Level of Lead is SAFE in Classroom Water Fountains? Prince George's County Public Schools and the EPA Differ

Prince George's County Water is Not Safe.
Q: What do our health agencies say about what a safe level of lead is in our water?

A: The EPA 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

20-5000 ppb: Prince George’s County Fountains were turned off 2009- 2011 with these lead levels.

20 ppb: EPA Recommends School Water Fountains Be Taken Out of Service at this level.
Read it here
EPA: 3Ts for Reducing Lead in in Schools

15-20 ppb: Prince George’s County Public Schools considers this “safe. ”
PGCPS has not been clear if they turned off fountains at 15 or 20 ppb but fountains with levels under 15 remained on.
  • In a 2016 letter PGCPS wrote   stating that they were using the EPA action level of 15 ppb. In yet another letter they wrote stating they were using the action letter of 20 ppb. I have that detailed in full here.  So we do not know which lead contaminant action level they  been using for the last half decade? 15 or 20 ppb? In the most recent 2017 statement they wrote that in 2004  “2,516 (approximately 90%) found to be at or above the 20 parts per billion (ppb) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action level” and that “through follow-up quality control sampling, 87 fixtures were immediately remediated, retested and cleared for use” . The statement also states that in 2009 “5,238 (approximately 30%) found to be at or above the 20 ppb EPA action level and “Exempt fixtures, including hose bibs, lavatory faucets and custodial utility sinks, were removed from the total number of fixtures that tested above action level.” and “Fixtures that tested above EPA-recommended levels were taken out of service”. So it seems like the action level used by PGCPS was in fact- 20 ppb.

15 ppb: EPA 1991  Lead in Water Limit set over 25 years ago in 1991 for corrosion control- NOT a health standard. Read it here

10 ppb: Prince George’s County Public Schools will ensure all new school construction is below this level in 2017 statement.
  • The PGCPS water quality page states that “During the construction of new schools, the water will be tested at the property line and from all drinking water sources. Any water that tests above 10 parts per billion (ppb) will be remediated.

5 ppb: FDA limit for amount of lead allowed in bottled water.

Washington DC Public Schools Lead in Water Limit Read Washington Post article on DC Schools here.

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

“Exposure to even low levels of lead can cause low IQ, hearing impairment, reduced attention span, and poor classroom performance.”

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