Camas School District water sources test positive for lead

Operations staff has disconnected water at identified locations

Two water sources at facilities in the Camas School District have tested above the state Department of Health’s trigger level for lead.

These are one drinking fountain at Dorothy Fox Elementary School and a sink at the Zellerbach Administration Center, which houses preschool and before- and after-school care programs.

According to district officials, both water sources are used infrequently, and the significance of the low use is important as water that remains in pipes for extended periods of time tends to collect the materials surrounding it.

“We understand parents and staff are concerned about the potential health impacts of lead in drinking water,” said Doreen McKercher, school and community relations coordinator. “In checking with our local and state health departments, we’ve learned that lead exposure risks from drinking water are generally low. In fact, it’s highly unlikely to have drinking water as the only potential source of exposure to lead if a child or adult has an elevated blood lead level.”

Due to findings of lead in drinking water in schools around the state and concerns raised by Gov. Jay Inslee, the district conducted its own testing for lead earlier this month.

McKercher noted that as soon as the test results were received, the district’s operations staff immediately disconnected the water at both identified sources as well as in four additional, less frequently used fountains at Dorothy Fox. Bottled water is being made available to students as of today.

The suspected source of lead is the fittings in the drinking fountains, which are original to the buildings.

Dorothy Fox Elementary and the Zellerbach Administration Center were built in the early 1980s and 1970s respectively, before the lead in plumbing materials was banned in 1986.

“Operations staff will now test all water sources in Dorothy Fox Elementary,” McKercher said. “Results are expected around the end of the school year.”

This summer, all drinking fountains original to Dorothy Fox Elementary will be replaced, and water testing will be repeated to ensure the issue is resolved.

“Children and adults can be exposed to lead from many sources, including lead-based paint, soil and the air,” McKercher said. “We have a very low occurrence of elevated blood lead levels among children 6 and younger in Clark County, and generally those levels are related to lead-based paint and contaminated soil.

“Because it is very difficult to predict health effects to a child based on information about lead in water,” she continued, “we are directing anyone with concerns about exposure to lead to contact their health care provider.”

For more information, visit http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Contaminants/Lead.

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