On Sept. 6, 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a new law that requires public schools in New York to test for lead in all water outlets currently or potentially used for drinking or cooking.
Per the new legislation, Schalmont Central School District had 301 of its potable water outlets across the district tested on Sept. 17. This was in addition to previous testing on 77 done Aug. 19, before the new law.
The district has received the results of the water testing completed in the high school/middle school campus, as well as the retesting of the two faucets that had elevated levels from the Aug. 19 testing.
“We are pleased that this round of testing is conclusive with our initial results, and once again, showed no issues in the overwhelming majority of water outlets in our schools, including all water fountains used by students on a regular basis,” said Superintendent Dr. Carol Pallas. “We are committed to ensuring that our students and staff have safe water to drink and that the water quality in our schools meet state and federal guidelines.”
Elevated levels of lead were detected in 16 water outlets in the
middle school. These included sinks in current and past science
classrooms, outside faucets, and the unused girls shower. As a result,
outside faucets and the sinks in the non-science classrooms will be
turned off. Signs have been posted in current science rooms stating
the sink is restricted to washing and water for experiments. The girls
shower also has been shut off, as it is currently unused.
In the high school, elevated levels of lead were detected in 46 faucets. These included non-drinking faucets such as sinks in science classrooms, showers in the old locker rooms, and a sink in the kitchen used for hand washing. Signs have been posted in current science rooms and above the kitchen stating the sinks are restricted to washing and experiments. Signs have also been posted near the showers stating the outlet is restricted to washing.
The two faucets that were retested after the district received the Aug. 19 results registered levels below the actionable limit and are permitted to be used once again.
“The results for all water outlets used for drinking and food preparation were under the acceptable limits,” Pallas said. “Most of outlets that tested at higher levels are ones that are not actively used, therefore water is sitting in the pipes instead of constantly flowing through them.”
The Center for Disease Control states that human skin does not absorb lead in water, and that it is safe to wash in water, even if it contains lead over EPA’s action level. Therefore it is safe for the science and slop sinks, all of which are designated for washing only, to continue to be used.
All outlets with elevated levels will be retested according to the
guidelines of the state Department of Health.
The district is still waiting for results from both Jefferson and Woestina schools from the August and September testing. Those results will be shared once received.
If you have questions about the testing process or results, call the Superintendent’s office at (518) 355-9200 ext. 4001.
The following resources provide additional information about water testing in schools: