Elevated lead levels found in 79 Cleveland Metropolitan School District water fountains

Posted at 10:47 AM, Nov 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-18 18:45:05-05

Final results from testing of Cleveland Metropolitan School District water sources show 9 percent were found to have elevated levels of lead.

The school district turned off drinking-water sources in 69 buildings over the summer to conduct voluntary testing. 

Testing of 1,700 drinking-water outlets showed 9 percent had elevated levels. The EPA’s action level for lead is a sample containing greater than 15 parts per billion lead. 

Check the levels for a specific school here.

CMSD decided to test the water after concerns about water contamination surfaced last year in Flint, Mich. 

“I was neither surprised nor unsurprised. I just knew that we as a district had to find out if there was an issue,” said Patrick Zohn, Chief Operating Officer for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. 

CMSD officials say they are taking immediate action to remove or replace 79 drinking fountains and 40 faucets that showed elevated levels after two rounds of testing. 

“If, after the repair, we still test positive, then we’ll go deeper in to seeing what if any piping needs to be replaced,” said Zohn.

Forty other fixtures that were not working during testing are also being replaced as an added precaution.

While water was being tested, water coolers were installed in the buildings where drinking water sources were turned off.

Sixty-five buildings built before 2002 were tested by Cleveland-based GETCO environmental consultants. 

Four newer buildings were tested as a precaution, but none of the sources in those buildings showed elevated levels of lead, according to CMSD.