January 29, 2018
This winter, Mary Hogan Elementary will partner with students and faculty researchers from Middlebury College to test all the sources of drinking water at Mary Hogan Elementary for lead. Mary Hogan Elementary is pursuing this testing, because Middlebury College is incorporating this testing into one of its courses, and the drinking water testing will be conducted at no cost to the school.
Why is it important to screen to test the school’s drinking water for lead? Although most lead exposure occurs when people eat paint chips and inhale dust, the EPA estimates that up to 20% of lead exposure may come from drinking water. Even though the public water supply to the school meets EPA’s lead standards, lead can still get into a school’s drinking water. As water moves through a school’s plumbing system, lead can leach into the drinking water from plumbing materials and fixtures that contain lead. Testing is the best way to know if there are elevated levels of lead in the school’s drinking water.
How will samples be taken? Student researchers will follow standard EPA methods and guidelines to take the samples from any taps supplying water that may be consumed including drinking fountains and bathroom, kitchen, and classroom sinks. Samples will be analyzed at Middlebury College. Some duplicate samples will also be sent to a certified commercial laboratory for analysis.
How long will it take to get the results? Laboratory results should be available within 2-4 weeks after samples are collected. The results will be reviewed by the school to determine if any follow-up actions are needed, although none are anticipated based on the previous testing. Results will be shared with parents, faculty, and staff within two weeks after the results are received by the school.
What will happen if there is lead in the drinking water at the school? Fixtures that show lead levels at or above the action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) will require follow-up sampling to pinpoint the source of the lead (pipes or fixtures). If lead levels are at or above 15 ppb, the school is committed to fixing the problem using a combination of easy fixes including:
- Routine practices (clean debris from screens, flush holding tanks, place signage).
- Permanent measures (replace piping, replace water fixtures).
Where can I get more information?
For more information regarding the testing project or sampling results:
- Call Eric Warren 382-1459
For information about the health effects of lead:
- Call the Health Department at 800-439-8550
- Visit http://healthvermont.gov/drinking-water/lead
- Visit http://healthvermont.gov/environment/children/prevent-lead-poisoning-parents
To request a drinking water test kit for your own home or place of work:
- Call the Health Department Laboratory at 802-338-4736 or 800-660-9997
Dr. Peter Burrows