BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Leaders in the Buffalo Public School district are alerting parents to elevated lead levels in the water in some of the schools.
New York State now requires districts to test the drinking water for lead. Elementary schools needed to be tested by the end of September, while high schools needed to be tested by the end of October.
The results are back for lead levels at 2,300 sources in the Buffalo Public School district. Sixty-eight of those sources show lead levels above the state mandated limit of 15 parts per billion, five of those sources were drinking fountains and the 63 were sinks.
The results are from 15 elementary schools, two 5-12 schools and an administrative building. Dr. Cash has not released the list of schools tested to the media. The district is waiting until the full information is released to parents on Wednesday.
“A lot of them were right just a little bit above the action level but we did have one of the outlets, that was in an area not frequently used, and it was 1,300 ppb,” said Yvette Gordon, the Director of Building Safety & Health.
Gordon said that was detected at a third floor drinking fountain at Olmsted School at Kensington.
“We want to assure our parents know there’s no need to panic at this right now,” said Dr. Kriner Cash. “We are following the guidelines strictly. We are expecting to take immediate action. When lead levels at the action level are found, we shut down that sink down or faucet down, we replace it and we retest.”
Buffalo school officials told News 4 the district tested 6,700 drinking fountains and sinks. Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash said they’re still testing at Leonardo da Vinci High School and the Johnnie B. Wiley athletic field but they expect to complete those by Thursday.
The district did not test 300 faucets that are in science labs where food or drink isn’t permitted, and a faculty member is always on hand to enforce the rule, according to Dr. Cash.
“We believe this is an important and critical issue,” said Dr. Cash. “No levels of lead consumed by children are acceptable to us. As educators, we know how important and critical it is to keep lead out of and away from our children because of the long term effects on their cognitive growth.”
The school district plans to start sending out letters and making robocalls to parents. They will also post the full test results on an ongoing basis on the district website.
Women & Children’s Hospital released a statement on Tuesday that said, in part, “If parents are concerned that their children have been exposed to lead, they should consult with their health care provider to discuss the risk of exposure and whether a blood test is recommended. A blood lead test is the only way to measure a child’s exposure to lead.”