High lead levels isolated at schools

Sheila Roley

SEASIDE — High lead levels were found at a sink faucet at Seaside High School and a hose at Gearhart Elementary School after testing in June.

The two problem spots were among 39 locations tested for lead.

The sink faucet was at the Seaside High School concessions stand and has since been replaced, district maintenance supervisor Glendon Ely said. The water is undergoing retesting and results are expected in several months.

The faucet was not used for drinking but was tested because of potential food preparation or dishwashing use.

Above-limit lead levels were also found in a hose in the Gearhart Elementary boiler room. No action was needed because it was a control sample, Ely said. The water is used to clean the boiler room.

“I think we were really relieved and surprised at the results,” Superintendent Sheila Roley said at a district board meeting Tuesday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends schools collect 250 milliliter first-draw samples of stagnant water from outlets used for consumption, taking them out of service if the lead level exceeds 20 parts per billion. The trigger for treatment in a public water system is 15 parts per billion.

Samples were taken from EPA guidelines for fountains and food prep faucets, Ely said. Some control samples, not from drinking or cooking faucets, were also taken.

Some water taps at Heights Elementary with lead levels approaching the limit of 20 parts per billion have been shut down and retested. The district will receive results in the coming months that will help determine the cause of high lead concentrations.

“We decided anything above 10 was high enough that we should look to see if something should be done,” Ely said. The district may replace the fixtures or seek a cleaner water supply.

After high lead volumes discovered in some Portland Public Schools drinking water was disclosed this spring, Oregon officials recommended statewide testing of school drinking water.

“We made a decision to test early,” Ely said. “We would still be waiting for results if we hadn’t.”

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