Mar 21, 2018

Flint Schools Find Elevated Lead Contamination

The slight increase in lead could be attributed to ending the practice of pre-flushing pipes

Increase in lead contamination found at Flint schools

Water samples with elevated levels of lead in Flint, Mich., elementary schools have increased from January to February, according to testing conducted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). According to local news source MLive, despite the increase in lead levels, the overall samples still meet federal guidelines; however, Flint community schools remains cautious. The schools have not used tap water since 2015, slightly before Gov. Rick Snyder recognized a health emergency.

The February data shows the school district’s 90th percentile for lead was 6 ppb, an increase from 4 ppb in January. MDEQ took 589 samples in February with 28 testing above 15 ppb—the federal threshold—while in January they took 705 samples with 20 testing above 15 ppb. The slight increase in lead contamination could be contributed to the decision to not flush pipes prior to taking samples. Pipe flushing prior to taking sample for lead contamination has been used in the past and shows lower lead concentrations because the water has not been in contact with the lead pipes for as long.

MDEQ began testing of Flint Community Schools in January to assess whether the drinking water was safe for the students to use tap water again. Despite the February spikes, lead contamination continues to meet federal guidelines. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is not convinced, however. She believes that state-funded bottled water should continue until all the lead service lines have been replaced or the medical community verifies the safety of the water.

“I am convinced that these test results prove additional work and investigation is needed to determine the source (or sources) of the lead, and what actions must be taken to address and resolve the problem, once and for all,” Weaver said in a statement.