DRINKING WATER LEAD TESTING
Safe and healthy school environments can foster healthy and successful children. To protect public health, the Public Health Law and New York State Health Department (NYSDOH) regulations require that all public schools test lead levels in water from every outlet that could potentially be used for drinking or cooking. If lead is found at any water outlet at levels above 15 parts per billion (ppb), the NYSDOH requires that the school take action to reduce possible exposure to lead.
What is first draw testing of school drinking water for lead?
The “on-again, off-again” nature of water use at most schools can raise lead levels in school drinking water. Water that remains in pipes overnight, over a weekend, or over vacation periods stays in contact with lead pipes or lead solder and, as a result, could contain higher levels of lead. This is why schools are required to collect a sample after the water has been sitting in the plumbing system for a minimum of eight hours but not more than 18 hours. This “first draw” sample is likely to show higher levels of lead for that outlet than what you would see if you sampled after using the water continuously.
What are the results of the first draw testing?
First draw water samples were taken in June 2021. Across eleven district buildings, a total of 629 outlets were sampled, and 106 of these outlets had samples that exceeded the reporting threshold of 15 ppb. Use the links below to view a list of exceedances for each school building.
Bush Elementary School
Fletcher Elementary School
Lincoln Elementary School
Love Elementary School
Ring Elementary School
Jefferson Middle School
Persell Middle School
Washington Middle School
Jamestown High School & Technical Academy
What is being done in response to the results?
All water outlets that tested with lead levels above 15 ppb have been removed from service, unless an outlet is a sink faucet needed for handwashing. In that case, a sign was posted at the outlet indicating that the sink is not to be used for drinking. At this time, we believe that systematic flushing and/or changing out the fixtures will successfully remediate any elevated lead levels. We will have these outlets retested after the remediation plan is implemented to ensure that these outlets do not exceed the reporting threshold prior to being used again.
What are the health effects of lead?
Lead is a metal that can harm children and adults when it gets into their bodies. Lead is a known neurotoxin, particularly harmful to the developing brain and nervous system of children under 6 years old. Lead can harm a young child's growth, behavior, and ability to learn. Lead exposure during pregnancy may contribute to low birth weight and developmental delays in infants. There are many sources of lead exposure in the environment, and it is important to reduce all lead exposures as much as possible. Water testing helps identify and correct possible sources of lead that contribute to exposure from drinking water.
What are the other sources of lead exposure?
Lead is a metal that has been used for centuries for many purposes, resulting in widespread distribution in the environment. Major sources of lead exposure include lead-based paint in older housing, and lead that built up over decades in soil and dust due to historical use of lead in gasoline, paint, and manufacturing. Lead can also be found in a number of consumer products, including certain types of pottery, pewter, brass fixtures, foods, plumbing materials, and cosmetics. Lead seldom occurs naturally in water supplies but drinking water could become a possible source of lead exposure if the building’s plumbing contains lead. The primary source of lead exposure for most children with elevated blood-lead levels is lead-based paint.
Should your child be tested for lead?
The risk to an individual child from past exposure to elevated lead in drinking water depends on many factors; for example, a child’s age, weight, amount of water consumed, and the amount of lead in the water. Children may also be exposed to other significant sources of lead including paint, soil and dust. Since blood lead testing is the only way to determine a child’s blood lead level, parents should discuss their child’s health history with their child’s physician to determine if blood lead testing is appropriate. Pregnant women or women of childbearing age should also consider discussing this matter with their physician.
For information about lead in school drinking water:
For information about NYS Department of Health Lead Poisoning Prevention:
For more information on blood lead testing and ways to reduce your child’s risk of exposure to lead, see “What Your Child’s Blood Lead Test Means”: