Chadwick Elementary and Baltimore Highlands Elementary test positive for lead in water

Two elementary schools in the southwestern part of Baltimore County have tested positive for elevated lead levels in water samples, as Baltimore County Public Schools continue state-mandated testing.

Chadwick Elementary and Baltimore Highlands Elementary schools both had fixtures test positive for a lead level above the state’s “action level” of 20 parts per billion.

Chadwick Elementary had a hand sink in a library work room test positive for 35.5 parts per billion; Baltimore Highlands had one hand sink test positive for 34.2 parts per billion and one other sink test positive for 106 parts per billion, according to an online list of results published by the school system.

In both schools, the fixtures were turned off and work orders were put in to replace the fixtures, according to BCPS. The schools are providing bottled drinking water to students, a policy at all BCPS schools built before 1990.

Brandon Oland, a spokesman for BCPS, said lead is coming from installed fixtures, not from the water supply.

“If you have a positive test and the fixture gets replaced, and that resolves the problem, that’s how we’ve been attacking this,” Oland said.

There is no “safe” level of exposure to lead in drinking water, especially for children, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Lead can be absorbed into the bloodstream through drinking water but not through the skin.

Oland did not immediately have available an estimate for the total cost of testing and replacing fixtures that test positive for lead, because the process is ongoing. Since there are “many tests to come,” trying to estimate a cost would be “a little premature,” he said.

“In the end, if it tests positive, it tests positive. We go in and we make the change,” he said.

Lead in children can result in a lower IQ and hyperactivity, hearing problems, anemia, slowed growth and behavioral and learning problems, according to the EPA.

Of 25 county schools that have had results posted so far, 17 have had at least one fixture with lead above the action level of 20 parts per billion.

Full test results can be found at http://www.bcps.org/lead_test_results.

Number of samples testing positive for lead in Baltimore County schools:

  • Gunpowder Elementary: 8
  • Pot Spring Elementary: 7
  • Perry Hall Elementary: 6
  • Fort Garrison Elementary: 5
  • Carney Elementary: 4
  • Reisterstown Elementary: 4
  • Chesapeake Terrace Elementary: 3
  • Pinewood Elementary: 3
  • Baltimore Highlands Elementary: 2
  • Chapel Hill Elementary: 2
  • Franklin Elementary: 2
  • Norwood Elementary: 2
  • Warren Elementary: 2
  • Wellwood Elementary: 2
  • West Towson Elementary: 1
  • Padonia Elementary: 1
  • Chadwick Elementary: 1
  • Logan Elementary: 1
  • Hampton Elementary: 0
  • Edgemere Elementary: 0
  • Essex Elementary: 0
  • Harford Hills Elementary: 0
  • Martin Boulevard Elementary: 0
  • Ridge Ruxton: 0
  • Seven Oaks Elementary: 0
  • Timonium Elementary: 0

cboteler@baltsun.com

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