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 and boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES) test lead levels in water from every outlet that is being used, or could potentially be used, for drinking or cooking. If lead is found at any water outlet at levels above 15 parts per billion (ppb), which is equal to 15 micrograms per liter (µg/L), the NYSDOH requires that the school take action to reduce the 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 certain period of time. 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. However, even if the first draw sample does not reflect what you would see with continuous usage, it is still important because it can identify outlets that have elevated lead levels.
What are the results of the first draw testing? What is being done in response to the results?
Sampling was conducted at the Mechanicville City School District’s Elementary School, Middle/High School and Bus Garage on October 6 and 7, 2020. All results were below the 15 ppb regulatory limit except for:
- MS/HS Home Economics Room 302 Sink 2 (47.4 ppb)
- Signage has been posted at the sink indicating that is to be used for handwashing only. The sink will be re-tested prior to the room being returned to its normal use. The room is currently being used as a traditional classroom due to COVID spacing requirements.
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.
NYS Department of Health and State Education Department information regarding lead in school drinking water
NYS Department of Health Lead Poisoning Prevention
Blood lead testing and ways to reduce your child’s risk of exposure to lead – “What Your Child’s Blood Lead Test Means”
- 2020 MSHS Lead Sampling Results
- 2020 Bus Garage Lead Sampling Results
- 2020 Elementary Lead Water Testing Results
- 2021 MSHS Lead Sampling Results
- 2021 Elementary Lead Water Testing Results
These documents are in PDF format. If you are having trouble accessing these document, please contact the district office.