PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There’s no federal law that requires schools to test for lead; however, officials with Pittsburgh Public Schools have decided to do that in all 70 facilities starting Tuesday.
They say it’s a safety measure in light some circumstances taking place across the country, including the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
“We know that in our younger students, ages 3 up to 6, they’re particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead and other heavy metals in their system,” Chief Operations Officer with Pittsburgh Public Schools Ronald Joseph said.
The main concern is finding lead in the water.
Environmental consultants will be brought in to each building to begin voluntary lead testing. Once that’s done, three to six new bi-level filtered, high-efficiency fountains and bottle-filling stations will be added.
“There’s one level that looks just like normal water fountain, then there’s another level that’s right next to it. They’re attached, and has a spout that comes down from the top of the casing, and you can put your water bottle underneath, and it’s a bottle filling station,” Joseph said.
“Clean water is super important, and with lead pipes around old systems, I think it’s a really good idea,” parent Andy Kelman said.
“If they’re testing the water, that sounds like a great idea. Sounds like something they should have been doing anyway, but that sounds great. I like that they’re keeping them safe,” parent Robyn Chachula said.
If a consultant comes across lead during testing, school district officials say they will take action right away.
“They will immediately turn off the fountain, and place sign where it says ‘Do Not Drink,’ and take measures to remove the fountain,” Joseph said.
Then, district officials say they will notify families that could be affected.
“Better safe than sorry,” Kelman said.
Officials say they’ll begin testing the water around 6 a.m. Tuesday. They anticipate having water in all 70 buildings tested by July 29.
Then, they will try to get as many bi-level fountains installed before kids go back to school in August.