San Diego

Updated List of Schools Tested for Lead in San Diego Unified School District

The second largest school district in the state of California is working with the City of San Diego to systematically test five schools a day, Tuesday through Saturday.

More than two dozen schools were added Monday to the list of those sampled in the San Diego Unified School District's effort to test water for lead and other contaminants.

The schools identified as having undergone sampling include Crawford and Hoover high schools, Memorial Prep and Harley E. Knox middle schools, Gompers Prep Academy Charter and the San Diego School of Creative  Performing Arts. There were also 16 elementary schools and one K-8 school as well as three charter schools located on district property.

The second largest school district in the state of California is working with the City of San Diego to systematically test five schools a day, Tuesday through Saturday.

Testing began on April 4 after lab reports confirmed "higher than allowable" lead levels were found at one campus.

The district said samples will be collected from water in the cafeteria, food prep areas and also drinking fountains.

The water at all schools within the district, including charter schools located on SDUSD property, will be tested for lead by the end of the traditional school year in June.

President of the San Diego Unified School Board Richard Barrera said the testing can only happen when the water is in regular use, when the schools are in session.

Samples will be collected Tuesday through Saturday since there are rules that water can't be sitting too long before testing, according to the district.

Barrera explained that the state had planned to test all schools between now and 2019 but that the district asked for the process to be accelerated after lead was found in a water sample from Emerson-Bandini Elementary School.

Barrera said the district will be transparent regarding test results and will publish them online here.

NBC 7 is mapping the schools and the results. Parents can view how the testing is going and click on each location for updates and links to test results.

All schools in district and those on district property - approximately 200 - will be tested.

The first round of test results released Thursday show lead has been found in the water of schools tested the week of April 4. None had a higher level than that set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of 15 parts per billion (ppb). In 2009, California’s health department, OEHHA, set the public health goal for lead in drinking water at 0.2 parts per billion.

Samples at Mann Middle School, taken from the area near the cafeteria and the custodian's office on April 6, measured 6.98 ug/L and 9.31 ug/L respectively.

At Encanto Elementary School, a sample taken from the upper level of Bldg 200 on April 4 measured 9.19 ug/L, one sample from an outside fountain in Bldg 400 measured 5.15 ug/L and another sample from the lower level of Bldg 200 measured 5.73 ug/L.

At Perry Elementary School, one sample taken on April 4 from a fountain near the girls' restroom in Building 4 measured 5.14 ug/L.

At Fulton K-8, a sample taken April 6 near the kindergarten rooms measured 5.41 ug/L

One sample taken on April 6 from triple fountains near the bungalows at Webster Elementary measured 5.09 ug/L while a sample from the cafeteria measured 7.14 ug/L.

The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) is concerned about the test results and wants the district to take action.

Public Health Advocate Jason Pfeifle said it’s wrong for schools to allow children to drink from fountains measuring even 5 parts per billion.

"There is no safe level of lead in drinking water for kids," said Jason Pfeifle CALPIRG Public Health Advocate. "These schools must protect children's health and shut off access to these water outlets immediately."

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.

Pfeifle said the potential for lead poisoning for children drinking water at schools where samples are greater than the recommended levels from the American Academy of Pediatrics depends on the rate of exposure. That recommendation for water is less than 1 ppb.

He said CALPIRG suggests the district install filters on all water sources or shut off access to water measuring anything over 1 ppb.

A San Diego Unified spokesman emailed the following statement to NBC7 Investigates in response to CALPIRG's concerns.

"We appreciate the strong position CALPIRG has taken on this issue, and we would be happy to discuss any concerns they may have about our results directly with them," a statement from San Diego Unified spokesman Andrew Sharp said in part. "Our schools have also started flushing all water fountains each morning to further protect children from any minerals that may have accumulated over night."

Read Sharp's full response here.

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 has been covering the concerns regarding drinking water at area schools since lab results revealed high levels of lead, copper and bacteria in the drinking water at La Mirada Elementary School in San Ysidro.

Learn more about the testing on the district's web page here.

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