School water lead risk is called low

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Baltimore health officials tried to reassure parents at Maree G. Farring Elementary School yesterday that the health risk to children from lead found in the school's drinking water is relatively low.

Health officials ordered the Brooklyn school to shut down drinking fountains late last month after it found low levels of lead - 15 parts per billion to 80 parts per billion - in the water. Pupils have since been given bottled water.

Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, Baltimore's health commissioner, said he is advising parents who are concerned about lead poisoning to have their children tested.

The problem at Maree G. Farring Elementary was first identified by school officials about a decade ago, but it is unclear what action was taken.

The tests done recently by the Health Department, Beilenson said, showed lead levels of 15 to 20 parts per billion in samples from four water fountains and a levels of 40 parts per billion and 80 parts per billion respectively in samples from two other fountains. He said those levels are still relatively low, but officials begin "paying attention" when levels reach 15 parts per billion in water.

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