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Jason Pfeifle,
CALPIRG

5 San Diego Schools Test Positive for Unsafe Lead Levels in Water

For Immediate Release

San Diego, CA – The San Diego Unified School District released new drinking water test results for 15 elementary and middle schools in the district. The results show that 5 of the schools had at least one water outlet test positive for lead at 5 parts per billion or higher.

"There is no safe level of lead in drinking water for kids," said Jason Pfeifle CALPIRG Public Health Advocate. "These schools must protect children's health and shut off access to these water outlets immediately."

The current federal action level for lead in drinking water is 15 parts per billion. While none of the schools had a water outlet test positive for lead above this level, that doesn't mean the water from these taps is safe for kids to drink.

Lead is highly toxic to children. Even small exposures to lead can cause permanent damage to children's cognitive development. Pediatricians across the country stress that no amount of lead in water is safe for kids. For instance, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a lead safety standard of 1 part per billion for drinking water at schools. California’s health department, OEHHA, has set the public health goal for lead in drinking water at 0.2 parts per billion.

Additionally, even when properly done, lead testing can yield variable results. Lead particles do not break off of pipes at a constant rate over time. Rather, lead leaching is a highly variable process. This means it is quite possible for the same water tap at a school to pass a test four times and then fail on the fifth.

"It is wrong to allow children to drink from fountains spewing lead-laced water," said Jason Pfeifle CALPIRG Public Health Advocate. "Schools should use filters certified to remove lead to protect children's health and prevent lead exposures from happening in the first place."

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