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Lead Found in Drinking Water at Hawaiʻi Public Schools

Jason Gillman from Pixabay

Testing of drinking water at Hawaiʻi's public schools found at least 93 faucets and fountains have elevated concentrations of lead.

The contaminated water was found among 2,232 sampled taps at 58 schools on Maui, Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island. Testing on Oʻahu began in July, and the results will be released as they become available.

An additional four taps with elevated levels of lead were found among 100 sampled sources at 70 child care centers in the state.

The results show elevated lead in about 4% of the samples collected so far, officials said.

The water testing returned lead concentrations above a project action level of 15 parts per billion.

State officials said the compromised fixtures were taken out of commission, and the facilities were notified.

“We would like to assure the community that taps that had elevated levels of lead will not be used for drinking or food preparation until the problem is fixed,” Michael Miyahira, acting branch chief of the Department of Health’s Safe Drinking Water Branch, said in a statement.

Faucet fixtures appeared to be the problem in most cases, but follow-up testing will reveal if plumbing is to blame, Miyahira said.

“It is important to note that any positive results do not mean there is lead in the water being provided to the school or child care facility from the public water supply departments,” Miyahira said. “Historically, our regulated water systems in Hawai‘i have not had lead contamination and our initial findings continue to support this.”

This is the first time Hawaiʻi’s public schools have been comprehensively tested for lead in drinking water. The state received a $222,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant to do the testing.

The Department of Education said it will evaluate plumbing where results show high lead levels and replace fixtures in any contaminated areas.

Comparable testing on the U.S. mainland has shown contamination in about 5% to 6% of samples taken, officials said.

Click here to find lead concentration results for specific schools.

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