PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) —
Elevated levels of lead were found in water inside a drinking fountain at a Providence middle school during recent tests, the NBC 10 I-Team has learned.
Tests on one fountain in a hallway at West Broadway Middle School found a level of 23.9 parts per billion, which is well above the federally accepted lead level of 15 parts per billion, according to documents released to the City Council.
The NBC 10 I-Team took the new results to state leaders, including Health Department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott.
“We’d want parents to know that our goal is to have drinking water be safe,” Alexander-Scott said.
She noted that no children in Rhode Island have been diagnosed with lead poisoning as a result of drinking water, whereas hundreds of children have suffered lead poisoning linked to paint in older homes.
“The key is making sure that the lead levels in someone’s blood are low, and the risk for causing that is minimized as well,” Scott said.
Evan England, a spokesman for Mayor Jorge Elorza, said the drinking fountain at West Broadway would be retested and taken out of service before school starts if elevated lead was found again.
The city denied a request to get video of the drinking fountain inside the school.
Other school districts with aging buildings, including New York and Boston, have also found lead inside fountains and fixtures.
Rep. Eileen Naughton introduced a law passed this year that directs the Health Department to test drinking water inside all Rhode Island schools.
“We’re going to really need to look at either replacing the lead lines or relining them, like Boston has done,” Naughton said.
Naughton noted that she got significant pushback from other lawmakers and state officials when she submitted the legislation, but felt it was important to test water inside schools, especially older buildings.
The law requires the Health Department to report back on drinking water tests inside all state schools by April 30, 2017. The NBC 10 I-Team will update you on those results.
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