Water Testing

Getting The Lead Out Results

The School District of Washington is committed to the safety and well-being of our students and staff. In alignment with that commitment and in compliance with the new Missouri state law, “Get the Lead Out of School Drinking Water Act,” over the summer we had a professional environmental consulting firm initiate and complete testing of our water. Specifically, each possible drinking and food preparation source in our schools, as well as classroom sinks and science labs, were sampled and tested to determine if the lead concentration in the water was above the required action level of five parts per billion (5 ppb), which is equal to 5 micrograms per liter. The 5 ppb level required by the state is below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) recommended action level of 15 ppb.

While the law specifies that all preschool through 12th grade schools that receive state funding have until August 1, 2024 to complete testing at all drinking water outlets and food preparation outlets, we acted promptly, in accordance with our commitment to protecting our community, and tested each outlet to ensure we could immediately initiate remedial measures as needed.

In the summer of 2023, each of our buildings constructed prior to 2014 had its water outlets of possible drinking and food preparation water tested, including ice machines. The district also chose to test classroom sinks and science labs. Of the 467 water outlets tested, 72% (335 outlets) met the new Missouri statutory level of 5 ppb or less.

Upon receiving the results on September 1st, each of these water sources that tested above the statutory level of 5 ppb were either taken out of service by our district facilities team or had signage placed that indicate it is non-potable, hand washing only, or lab use only. Prior to being used again, outlets identified as a drinking water source or food preparation source that tested over the Missouri statutory level of 5 ppb will be re-tested to ensure the issue has been resolved. We will communicate additional results after re-testing takes place as well as remediation steps.

Please know the safety and health of our students and staff is our highest priority and we will work diligently to rectify every outlet identified as a drinking water source or food preparation source that is out of compliance with the new regulation. In the meantime, all students and staff will continue to have access to a variety of water outlets that have met compliance, throughout the school.

Test results by building are listed below:

Augusta Elementary

Campbellton Elementary

Clearview Elementary

Early Learning Center

Four Rivers Career Center

Labadie Elementary

Marthasville Elementary

Washington High School

Washington Middle School

Washington West Elementary

Additional Resources

Lead is rarely found in source water like ground water or rivers. Typically, lead in water is the result of corrosion, or the wearing away, of lead-containing materials in the water distribution system such as pipes and faucets. Since 1986, all plumbing materials must be “lead-free”. The law currently allows plumbing materials to be up to 0.25 percent lead to be labeled as “lead-free”. While there are fewer amounts of lead used in newer water distribution systems, corrosion still occurs. When water stands in lead pipes or plumbing systems containing lead for several hours or more, the lead may dissolve into the drinking water. In such circumstances, the first water drawn from a tap in the morning typically contains the highest traces of lead.

Lead in drinking water, although rarely the sole cause of lead poisoning, can significantly increase a person’s total lead exposure. The EPA estimates that drinking water can make up 20% or more of a person’s total exposure to lead. According to the EPA (www.epa.gov), children of any age are susceptible to the effects of lead, with children under the age of 6 being most at risk.

While effects may vary in scope and severity, the EPA reports that lead might lead to behavior and learning problems, lower IQ, hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anemia. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the impact of lead exposure on children can be impacted by a variety of factors including age, nutrition, the source of exposure, length of time of the exposure, and other underlying health conditions.

Elevated levels of lead in women who are pregnant can also be harmful, possibly severely, to both babies and mothers. Your physician or healthcare provider can provide additional information regarding the effects of lead exposure and, with respect to one’s health history, whether testing for lead should be considered.

Useful Information

Official statute language - https://revisor.mo.gov/main/OneSection.aspx?section=160.077&srch=y

Basic information about lead in drinking water - https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/basic-information-about-lead-drinking-water

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services - https://health.mo.gov/living/environment/lead/publications.php

St. Louis County Department of Health Lead Information - https://stlouiscountymo.gov/st-louis-county-departments/public-health/environmental-services/healthy-homes/lead-poisoning-prevention/