Lead found in drinking water at Reading school

The administration of the Reading Public Schools has been notified that lead levels in three of the district’s eight schools exceeded  the new recommended Environmental Protection Agency guidelines regarding lead water levels.

The tests, performed by the local water department under the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Lead and Copper Rule program, showed that one sample from two of the schools, Coolidge Middle School and Birch Meadow Elementary School, contained lead results above the recommended level. At Coolidge, the higher lead levels were found in a hand washing sink in the kitchen, and at Birch Meadow the higher lead levels were found in a combination classroom sink/water faucet.  Both the Birch Meadow and Coolidge issues have been addressed by removing the drinking fountain from service and allowing only hand washing at those two sinks. Further testing in the areas near those faucets will be occurring.

At Killam School, seven of the thirteen samples had lead levels that exceeded the Massachusetts and federal action level for lead in drinking water at schools and child care facilities. These samples were taken from a variety of water taps throughout the school including hallway water fountains, classroom sinks/water fountains, kitchen sinks, and bathroom sinks. As a precautionary measure, all drinking fountains in classrooms and corridors have been removed from service until the remaining faucets and drinking fountains in the building have been tested and the source of the lead has been determined. Students and staff will still be able to use the sinks for handwashing, but not for drinking or cooking purposes.

Bottled water will be provided for all students and staff at Killam until additional testing proves that the water is clear and below the action level for lead and drinking water. The Massachusetts Water Resource Authority and the Board of Health have been contacted about the situation. The MWRA will assist in additional water testing for Killam and will help determine the source of the lead. Reading Public School officials will develop a long range plan to address this issue. The public will be kept informed about what has been done and what is being done to safeguard against lead exposure from drinking water at Killam through periodic reports.

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