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Hillcrest Elementary and Rodgers Forge Elementary among 14 schools testing positive for lead in water fixtures

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Fourteen of 22 schools that Baltimore County Public Schools has tested for lead since Jan. 7 have tested positive in at least one water fixture.

BCPS has been testing drinking fountains for lead since 2016 and has begun state-mandated testing on all potential drinking water sources — like sinks or other taps — during the 2018-2019 school year. Any source of water that tests positive for lead above Maryland’s action level, defined as 20 parts per billion (ppb), is turned off and potentially removed and replaced.

Oakleigh Elementary, Orems Elementary, Cromwell Valley Elementary, Middlesex Elementary, Oliver Beach Elementary, Pleasant Plains Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, Winfield Elementary, Rodgers Forge Elementary, Mars Estates Elementary, McCormick Elementary, Winand Elementary and Charlesmont Elementary tested positive for lead at or above 20 ppb in two or more water fixtures. The Battle Monument school tested positive for lead in one water fixture.

Charlesmont Elementary in Dundalk tested positive for lead in 14 water fixtures; Winand Elementary in Pikesville tested positive for lead in 13 fixtures; and McCormick Elementary in Rosedale tested positive for lead in 11 fixtures. Until this round of testing, no school had tested positive for lead above the action level of 20 ppb in more than eight fixtures.

Three bubblers and one hand sink at Hillcrest Elementary School in Catonsville tested positive for lead above the action level. Four bubblers and one fountain at Rodgers Forge Elementary School in Towson tested positive for lead above the action level.

A fountain is a stand-alone device for drinking and a bubbler is something that is attached to a sink that is meant for drinking, said Brandon Oland, a spokesman for BCPS.

“We knew the testing was coming and so it’s not like students have been drinking from these fixtures,” Oland said.

BCPS schools built prior to 1990 have had bottled water for drinking since 2016. Schools built during 1990 or later will provide bottled drinking water until results meet the state’s new action level of 20 parts per billion.

At locations that tested positive, the fixtures have been shut down and work orders have been put in to have them replaced, according to the school system. Bottled drinking water is being provided as well.

The school system said testing will be completed by the end of the school year.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says there is no “safe” amount of lead in drinking water, especially in children. Lead can be absorbed through drinking water but not through contact with skin.

Monica Simonsen, a parent of two students at Hillcrest Elementary, said she feels like the school and the school system generally does a good job of communicating with families, but that it needs to be “intentionally redundant” when it comes to safety and well-being. She said there might be “lots of families not getting the information they need.”

“Every principal is being stuck with trying to stick on band aids at their facilities when there have been years of neglect,” she said.

A full list of schools testing positive for lead above the action level in water fixtures is available online at http://www.bcps.org/lead_test_results/.

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

  • Charlestmont Elementary: 14
  • Winand Elementary: 13
  • McCormick Elementary: 11
  • Gunpowder Elementary: 8
  • Fullerton Elementary: 8
  • Pot Spring Elementary: 7
  • Perry Hall Elementary: 6
  • Mars Estates Elementary: 6
  • Rodgers Forge Elementary 5
  • Fort Garrison Elementary: 5
  • Carney Elementary: 4
  • Winfield Elementary: 4
  • Hillcrest Elementary: 4
  • Reisterstown Elementary: 4
  • Pleasant Plains Elementary: 3
  • Oliver Beach Elementary: 3
  • Middlesex Elementary: 3
  • Cromwell Valley Elementary: 3
  • Middlesex Elementary: 3
  • Battle Grove Elementary: 3
  • Chesapeake Terrace Elementary: 3
  • Millbrook Elementary: 3
  • Pinewood Elementary: 3
  • Orems Elementary: 2
  • Oakleigh Elementary: 2
  • Arbutus Elementary: 2
  • Baltimore Highlands Elementary: 2
  • Chapel Hill Elementary: 2
  • Franklin Elementary: 2
  • Norwood Elementary: 2
  • Warren Elementary: 2
  • Wellwood Elementary: 2
  • Battle Monument: 1
  • Bear Creek Elementary: 1
  • Riderwood Elementary: 1
  • West Towson Elementary: 1
  • Padonia Elementary: 1
  • Villa Cresta Elementary: 1
  • Chadwick Elementary: 1
  • Logan Elementary: 1
  • Cockesyville Middle: 0
  • Stoneleigh Elementary: 0
  • Red House Run Elementary: 0
  • Randallstown Elementary: 0
  • Mays Chapel Elementary: 0
  • Lyons Mill Elementary: 0
  • Deep Creek Elementary: 0
  • Chase Elementary: 0
  • Campfield Early Childhood Center: 0
  • Hampton Elementary: 0
  • Edgemere Elementary: 0
  • Halstead Academy: 0
  • Elmwood Elementary: 0
  • Essex Elementary: 0
  • Harford Hills Elementary: 0
  • Lutherville Lab Elementary: 0
  • Martin Boulevard Elementary: 0
  • Ridge Ruxton: 0
  • Riverview Elementary: 0
  • Seven Oaks Elementary: 0
  • Timonium Elementary: 0

cboteler@baltsun.com

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