Pine-Richland School District is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our students and staff members. As one component of this focus, the district has historically conducted a preventative program in which periodic testing is conducted in our buildings. For example, past tests include lead in water, indoor air quality, and radon. The purpose of this letter is to share some preliminary results from one of the tests.
This past year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly amended the PA School Code, which was signed into law by the governor, to require school districts to test for lead in drinking water. If a school does not test water for lead, the school is required to discuss lead issues at a public meeting. Pine-Richland made the decision to re-test for lead in water and voluntarily expanded the scope of preventative testing to include lead in paint, radon, and ongoing indoor air quality samples. This series of tests are being conducted at this time.
As one part of this program, PSI-Intertek technicians collected 290 water samples from the six district buildings and the stadium in November. Samples were collected from all sources that would typically be used for consumption (e.g. fountains, faucets, kitchen sinks, and faucets tied to kitchen equipment such as large-volume, fixed-faucet stockpot equipment).
The Pine-Richland Buildings & Grounds Department received initial results on Tuesday, December 4, 2018, with additional information provided on Wednesday, December 5, 2018. Out of the 290 samples collected district-wide for drinking water, there were five specific sources where the results of testing indicated a concentration of lead greater than 20 parts per billion.
Three of those results were from sources that are not used for cooking or drinking water. At the high school, there are three large-volume, fixed-faucet stockpot pieces of equipment that have notbeen used this year. These pieces of equipment will not be repaired since they are being removed from service.
The remaining two sources are also connected to the same type of large-volume, fixed-faucet stockpots at Wexford and Hance (one at each school). Mrs. Bucknum, Sodexo Food Service Manager, indicated that these pieces of equipment are used approximately three times per month. They were taken out of service on Wednesday, December 5, 2018. A re-test was conducted this morning (Thursday). Lab results should be received by next week. The equipment will remain out of service until the faucets are replaced and a third test is conducted with results that meet EPA standards.
It is important to note that the large-volume, fixed-faucet pieces of equipment were not flushed prior to the initial testing conducted in November. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends flushing water sources prior to testing to avoid any stagnant water, which would not represent the water used for drinking during a typical school day. Flushing involves opening the taps to let the water run to remove water that has been left sitting in the interior pipes/outlets. Please review some tips and guidelines from the EPA about this topic.
As background and prior to this latest testing, water samples were drawn districtwide by Microbac Laboratories in March of 2016. In all instances, the water met the standards. To further strengthen the district efforts of preventive testing, the district applied for and earned a $26,000 grant through Women for a Healthy Environment initiative “Lead in Water, Lead in Paint, and Radon Testing & Remediation, supported by The Heinz Endowments through a grant entitled the “1000 Hours A Year Grant.” This was grant was earned in October of 2018.
We are thankful for the systematic approach and swift action exhibited by our maintenance and buildings and grounds staff members who were involved with testing and remediation. By providing periodic testing, we continue to be proactive and solve issues before they become more serious.
When all preventative testing is completed, this topic will be placed on a board agenda for public awareness and review. The results of the various tests will be attached (i.e., lead in water, lead in paint, radon, and indoor air quality). Thank you for your attention and time as we work to provide healthy surroundings to students and staff.