Lead labs see huge increase in requests for testing

Posted at 5:25 PM, Dec 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-07 17:25:47-05

Since the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, there has been a mad dash to have water tested for lead all over the country.

That’s certainly the case in Ohio where labs are testing hundreds of samples every day.

It’s simple supply and demand, what once was an inexpensive, rare test, can now run a business or a school district, thousands of dollars.

In years past, CWM Environmental, a lab in Garfield Heights, would test drinking water for levels of lead just a couple of times a month. Now, they test a couple hundred times a month. It is one of their biggest money makers and the need for testing is only growing.

At CWM Environmental Labs, Shawn Buxton is solely responsible for testing every water sample for lead. He’s seen his work skyrocket since the crisis in Flint, Michigan.

His biggest clients are school districts.

“We’ve seen a lot more schools want to test their drinking fountains and their taps,” he said.

Like, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, though not clients of CWM, so far this year, CMSD spent $400,000 on testing.

But it’s a price well worth paying said Buxton.

“We’ve had some schools, some clients, come back with high levels of lead and it’s really surprising of where they’re from and kind of scary,” he said.

“It’s been a statewide influx in sampling for lead,” said Austin Abranovic, a sales executive at CWM.

The Ohio General Assembly this year, in hoped of making it easier and more affordable for school systems to test for lead, gave a $15,000 grant to each school building that applied, to test drinking water. The grant will cover most, but not all costs associated with the testing.

“We have samples as far over as Sandusky, even further down toward Cincinnati area,” said Abranovic.

What once was a rare, occasional test has become one of the fastest growing sectors of environmental science in the state of Ohio.

The lab has also seen an uptick in requests for testing from office buildings, apartment complexes, and private residences.