Several schools test water for lead; Washington County, TN finds positive testing in two schools


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Washington County Schools have found lead in two of their schools. 

New legislation requires schools built before 1998 to test for led in drinking water. Before this time lead based solder was used in plumbing. 

Washington County Schools just completed their testing and found two schools with traces of lead. Two drinking water fountains at Boones Creek Elementary and one at West View Elementary tested positive for the substance that can cause serious problems for children who are exposed to it. Dr. Bill Flanary,  the Director of Schools for Washington county said that he wanted to get in front of the problem, 
“By large, we found most our schools to be contaminate free but we did find yesterday that from our independent laboratory, located locally, that we did have three hits. Immediately we shut down the water supplies to theses, they were drinking fountains, we shut down the water supply, and went ahead and just removed those fixtures. We don’t exactly know where the specific source of the contamination is. So, well start by replacing the fountains to see if the fountain itself was the problem.”
Flanary said that the Department of Health, Commissioner of Education Office, county government, and parents were notified immediately. He said that protocol is for parents to be notified of the matter within five days. However, the school system notified parents within hours of the findings. 
The Washington County Department of Health’s Director, Christen Minnick, told News Channel 11 the affects lead can have on the body. 
“For children, [when] we see children with led in their blood system we would be concerned about things related to learning disabilities potentially when they’re older, behavioral issues, and worse case scenarios we would be concerned about nerve or brain damage potentially, but that again is a worse case type scenario. If parents are concerned about exposure and they want to have their child tested, we can do that here at the Health Department through an appointment in our general clinic, or they can touch base with their pediatrician. There are treatment that they can do. Lead drops that we can provide for them.
For now, the school has altered school menus to stop using added drinking water, and several organizations have donated water and coolers for the schools. 
Dr. Flanary said that he doesn’t know how long this process will take, but that they will be going through the entire plumbing system until they can find the source. 
News Channel 11 has reached out to several school systems in the area about their lead testing. See below the list of schools we’ve reached out to. 
  • Washington Co TN: 3 water fountains at 2 schools.
  • Hawkins County: In the process of collecting samples. Those will be sent off the week after Easter. Results expected back the following week.
  • Carter County: Results came back clear.
  • Greene County: Their lead testing came back clear.

The following schools have yet to reply: 

  • Elizabethton City Schools
  • Sullivan County Schools 
  • Johnson City Schools
  • Johnson County Schools
  • Kingsport City Schools 
  • Unicoi County Schools

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