Elevated lead levels discovered in 27 Virginia Beach schools

Virginia

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach City Public Schools says 27 schools had elevated levels of lead found in drinking and food prep sources.

Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence sent a notice to families Wednesday afternoon alerting them of the results of recent water testing.

A state law was passed in 2017 requiring public schools to test drinking water, prioritizing schools built in or before 1986.

VBCPS focused on 33 schools constructed before that time period, going back to 1939.

In all, 61 drinking and food-prep water sources in 27 of those 33 schools came back this fall with results that showed lead levels greater than 15 parts per billion, which the industry refers to as “actionable levels.”

The school system emphasized the risk of elevated lead concentrations in children from school water consumption is very low, although the Centers for Disease Control states, “…because no safe blood level has been identified for young children, all sources of lead exposure for children should be controlled or eliminated.”EPA INFORMATION ABOUT LEAD IN DRINKING WATER

“We understand that this may be concerning news, especially if your child is in one of the schools that was affected.”

“But we are working closely with the VBDPH and Virginia Beach City Public Utilities, both of which are providing guidance and support. Our testing protocol is in place for this very reason: to identify and correct issues expediently. We are and will remain committed to protecting the health and well-being of our students and staff in VBCPS.”

 VBCPS SUPERINTENDENT AARON SPENCE

The school division said it “responded swiftly” to rectify the lead issues at the schools, starting with the sources of drinking water. Certain fixtures were taken out of commission or replaced.

“They’ve all been corrected at this point,” said Jack Freeman, C.O.O. of VBCPS.

After the drinking water fixture replacements, water sources were retested and came back with results below the 15 parts per billion threshold. Water sources not intended for drinking or cooking are also now labeled as such.

The drinking and food-prep water sources in all pre-1986 schools and buildings will be tested again by December, the school division said. Further, the water sources will be tested in all remaining buildings by the end of the school year.

“In 1986 lead was no longer allowed to be used in solders and the materials for pipes,” said Susan Sadowski, with Virginia Beach Public Utilities.

VBCPS has created a webpage at vbschools.com/safewater, where families can learn more about lead water levels, see the division’s recent test results and follow the progress of further testing. 

The schools affected during this testing cycle were:

  • Bayside High School,
  • Bayside Middle School,
  • Brandon Middle School,
  • Creeds Elementary School,
  • Fairfield Elementary School,
  • First Colonial High School,
  • Green Run Elementary School,
  • Holland Elementary School,
  • Independence Middle School,
  • Kempsville Middle School,
  • King’s Grant Elementary School,
  • Kingston Elementary School,
  • Laskin Road Annex,
  • Lynnhaven Elementary School,
  • Lynnhaven Middle School,
  • Malibu Elementary School,
  • North Landing Elementary School,
  • Pembroke Elementary School,
  • Plaza Middle School,
  • Princess Anne Elementary School,
  • Princess Anne High School,
  • Princess Anne Middle School,
  • Shelton Park Elementary School,
  • Technical and Career Education Center,
  • Thalia Elementary School,
  • Trantwood Elementary School
  • Bettie F. Williams Elementary School.

Bottled water will be made available at any schools where testing has not been completed.

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