52 Water Fixtures Across 6 Wilmington Schools Found With Elevated Lead Levels

WILMINGTON, MA — The Town has finalized its proactive testing of water fixtures in response to recent reports of elevated lead and copper in school water supplies throughout the country.  Since May of this year, the Town has conducted water sample tests from over 240 fixtures in the public school buildings.  The fixtures included water fountains and faucets in classrooms, bathrooms, and other locations.

In total, it was found that approximately 52 fixtures had elevated lead levels.  This is inclusive of the fixtures reported in prior communications.  These fixtures are located in the Boutwell, North Intermediate, Shawsheen, West Intermediate, Wildwood, and Woburn Street Schools.  Elevated lead levels are those at or above the “action level” of 15 parts per billion.

The Public Buildings Department is working with the School Department to review the final results of the extensive testing.  The School Department is identifying which fixtures are to be replaced, removed, or posted “for hand washing only”.  Water has been shut off to the fixtures at or above the action level as a precaution while the corrective action plan is being implemented.

The majority of the water sample testing was paid for by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.  The MWRA has been collaborating with the Town since June to establish effective sample collection protocols, and to test over 400 water samples provided by the Town.

The Town has also applied for and been accepted into the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) technical assistance grant program.  DEP will be assisting the Town in establishing an online database of fixtures in the schools, including mapping of the fixtures, tracking of maintenance, testing, and results.  Mass DEP will conduct their own water sample tests of fixtures used for sources of consumable water such as fountains, and kitchen prep sinks.  The DEP test results will serve as the baseline for tracking going forward.  Lead and copper testing is expected to be conducted every three to five years going forward.

The Wilmington Department of Public Works tests the Town’s water supply for lead, as required by the Environmental Protection Agency and DEP regulations.  Lead is not in the water source, however lead and copper can be evident if the fixtures where the water is coming from contain either of these metals.   The evidence of lead and copper increases when a fixture has not been used in days or weeks.

If ingested in elevated doses, lead and copper can be toxic.  Parents are encouraged to speak with their pediatrician if they wish to have their children tested for lead or copper.

(NOTE: The above press release is from the Town Manager’s Office.)

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