San Diego

State Results Show High Levels of Lead in Water at Various Schools

What to Know

  • The second largest school district in the state is working with the City of San Diego to collect samples from 5 schools a day
  • The water at all schools, including charter schools on SDUSD property, will be tested by the end of the school year
  • Samples will be collected Tuesday through Saturday since there are rules that water can't be sitting too long before testing

Lab results show unusually high levels of lead were found at several schools in San Diego County during the school year, according to documents obtained Friday by NBC 7.

Results for San Diego County from the State Water Resources Control Board show one sample recorded lead at three times the levels acceptable by the state.

As schools test for lead in their drinking water, they are required by the state to fix problems if they discover lead in water at levels greater than 15 parts per billion (ppb).

The Vista Irrigation District reported a sample collected from the kitchen of Grapevine Elementary on April 7 had a result of 49 ppb. Samples collected on March 24 and March 15 in the school’s kitchen returned with 12 and 16 ppb respectively. NBC 7 reported the latter results on April 20.

"I’d want to get my water tested," said Brian Marazoni, who lives across the street from the school.

Lead levels of 31 ppb were found in samples collected March 14 at the drinking fountain near the wood shop at Twin Oaks High School Wood Shop. The basketball drinking fountain on the same campus showed lead levels at 15 ppb, according to results from tests conducted by the Vallecitos Water District.

Neighbor Lindsay Smith told NBC 7, the levels are "something to worry about."

In Oceanside, a water sample collected on April 28 from Cesar Chavez Middle School measured 18 ppb while an earlier sample collected on April 6 had a result of 12 ppb. No details were given as to the location of the samples on the campus.

According to results from the Sweetwater Authority, a sample collected on April 11 at Ira Harbison in National City returned with lead levels at 20 ppb. NBC 7 reported this result in May.

In Escondido, a water sample collected from the drinking fountain in Room 12 at Pioneer Elementary on May 10 was found to have 13 ppb of lead, according to the SWRCB lab results.

In 2009, California’s health department, OEHHA, set the public health goal for lead in drinking water at 0.2 parts per billion.

The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics maintain there is no safe level of lead in drinking water provided to children.

Lead poisoning in children can cause symptoms ranging from headaches and hearing or speech problems to learning and behavioral problems or damage to the brain and nervous system.

The potential for lead contamination in the water supply is greater in buildings built before 1986, according to health, water and city experts.

There are 447 schools across San Diego County built before 1986.

See our map of schools where the risk is greater here.

NBC 7 is gathering our coverage of concerns regarding drinking water in our special section "Safe to Drink?' here.

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