CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District is rolling out a new initiative to test all schools’ drinking water for lead.
District officials say they want to see whether the plumbing infrastructure in their schools is having any impact on the quality of the water at the tap.
In its first round of schools, the district has already taken samples from 37 out of 40 schools. The order of the schools was determined based on criteria developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Water Works Association.
Although the groundwater the schools receive doesn't contain any lead, officials say lead could contaminate the water supply through older pipes.
According to Ron Kramps, CCSD's Associate of Facilities Management, schools are testing the water based on a recommended threshold for action by the EPA.
If the results come back with more than 15 parts per billion of lead, the district will replace the fixtures at those water sources. In many cases, they are also adding filters to many of their drinking fountains.
The district says more than 98 percent of the outlets (faucets, water fountains, sinks, etc.) tested have had results come back with less than the recommended amount.
Officials have reported that some water sources have contained a higher level of lead, but they have since replaced those fixtures.
Medical experts at MUSC say parents shouldn't be concerned about the reported findings.
"Even with the few positive findings that have occurred, even if they hadn't been corrected, it would be extraordinarily difficult for a child to be poisoned to a level of concern," said J. Routt Reigart, MUSC professor emeritus of pediatrics.
Officials hope to be done testing the remaining 40 schools by next February.
Parents will receive a letter after their child’s school is tested explaining the results and if any corrective action was needed. The school district will release the results for about a dozen schools on Tuesday, Dec. 10. Those results can be found for each school as they become available on the CCSD Facilities Management webpage.
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