Sep 20, 2018

Lead, Copper Detected in Detroit School District Drinking Water

Hydration stations installed in school districts all over the country to combat elevated levels of lead and copper

Hydration stations installed in school districts all over the country to combat elevated levels of lead and copper.
Hydration stations installed in school districts all over the country to combat elevated levels of lead and copper.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District shut off water across more than 100 school buildings in the area after elevated levels of lead and copper were found in the drinking water. According to the Detroit Free Press, an additional 33 schools were just added to that list. After the original findings, tests were done on 52 more schools in the Detroit area. 57 out of the 86 schools tested have shown to have elevated levels of lead and/or copper this year.

To combat this issue, the district started the school year by using bottled water and water coolers. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti proposed a $2 million plan to install water hydration stations in every school. Vitti has said he think the hydration station would be a better solution because they would filter contaminants out of the drinking water.

“The hydration stations would be installed in all schools by the beginning of next school year district wide and replace the need for water coolers,” Vitti said.

There would be a hydration station for every 100 students. Hydration stations are being used in other schools in the nation as well, including Baltimore City Public Schools. Matt Hornbeck, principal of Hampstead Hill Academy, said parents, students and staff are fans of the system.

“It passes the test every time,” Hornbeck said. “We’ve been really pleased with it. Kids and parents are excited to have the kids safely hydrated.”

Baltimore City Public Schools have not been able to drink from water fountains for a decade ever since elevated levels of lead were found.

Since the Flint water crisis, there has been more concern about the safety of drinking water. Many have turned to water hydration systems like Detroit and Baltimore.

In Portland, Ore., voters have approved a bond that provided about $30 million to address issues related to water testing of the school district. Other school districts, like Portland, have been dealing with water issues as well.

Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools is replacing hundreds of fixtures after finding elevated levels of lead in their water. High levels of lead continues to be a problem in New York City schools and in Hillsborough County in Fla. And in Indiana when 915 schools were tested as part of a statewide lead sampling program, 61% were found to have elevated levels of lead.

The Environmental Protection Agency says that even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in behavior and learning problems, lower IQ, hyperactivity, among other problems. Copper can cause harmful health effects including vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.

Derek Turner, spokesman for the Montgomery County District, has said some have suggested lowering the lead action level to 10 parts per billion or 5 parts per billion.

“We’re 100% open to that,” Turner said. “At the end of the day, we have to keep kids safe if they want to learn. That’s our responsibility.”

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