Testing: Lead levels high in 3 BEA water fixtures

Local News

Last year, three water fixtures at Blue Earth Area schools exceeded the national standard for lead.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows for no more than 20 parts per billion of lead in drinking water.

But, testing conducted in May show a faucet and fountain at the Blue Earth Area Elementary School kitchen had lead levels of 61.1 and 35.4 respectively, while a lobby fountain at Winnebago Elementary School had a level of 21.1.

Approaching the 20 ppb threshold with a level of 17.5 ppb was a sink located in the Community Education Office at the BEA Elementary School.

Superintendent Evan Gough says the testing was conducted by IEA of Mankato and Minnesota Valley Testing Laboratories , Inc., of New Ulm at a cost of $2,100.

“The issues were resolved by flushing or fixture replacement,” he says. “It was a priority and we addressed the issues as soon as results were available to us.

To help ensure acceptable lead levels, Gough says, maintenance and custodial staff run water fixtures for one minutes or longer every morning.

Among water testing records of more than 600 schools, according to new reports, at least one of every four of those schools are not testing based on the Minnesota Department of Health’s recommendation.

The state health department suggests that schools test each tap or fixture providing drinking water or water for food preparation for lead every five years.

Gough says the district complies with the state’s testing guidelines, which are voluntarily.

Records show testing at some Minnesota schools hasn’t been done since the late 1990s.

While municipal water systems are tested for lead, state health officials suggest that schools test due to possible sources of lead inside their plumbing.

According to the EPA, when lead enters the water system, it’s most often from lead solder used on brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures.

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