Lead Found In High School’s Water in Southwest

A local lab found lead in the drinking water at La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, N.M. Worried that the water might be contaminated, a student brought a sample to the lab last week. School district authorities attribute the lead content to pipes that contain lead.

The school’s Assistant Principal Todd Resch said that the water is chemically treated to lower copper and lead every two weeks. But according to John Dufay, director of operation and maintenance for Albuquerque Public Schools, the district has not specifically tested the drinking water for lead in several years.

La Cueva High School was built in the 1980s, shortly before the government banned the use of lead solder in water pipes. Due to this, the solder holding the water pipes together is 50 percent lead.

According to Resch, more than 60 filters have been installed in water fountains and faucets since 1999. Dufay said that even though the level of lead in the water meets government standards, all of the water pipes in the high school will be replaced in the next two years at a cost of $2 million.

The district has sent water samples to the Assaigai Lab for further testing for lead, as well as for arsenic and copper.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high levels of lead are most dangerous to young children and can damage adults’ kidneys and reproductive systems. At very high levels, lead poisoning can cause mental retardation, coma, convulsions and death.


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