School district completes state-mandated lead testing

By Oliver Lazenby

The Blaine school district finished its 2018 state funded lead testing at Blaine Middle School and has since replaced three sink fixtures that tested over 10 parts per billion of lead.

In November, the Washington State Department of Health took samples from all 66 water fixtures at the Blaine Middle School. Results came back in December and the three fixtures the district has since replaced, which were all sink fixtures rather than drinking fountains, had 11, 14 and 15 parts per billion of lead.

The state Department of Health requires that districts replace all fixtures that test at 20 parts per billion of lead or more. All fixtures at both primary schools and the elementary school were tested earlier in 2018 and the district replaced any fixtures that tested over 10 parts per billion at those schools, a self-imposed limit.

Of the middle school’s 40 drinking fountains, 38 had 1 or fewer parts per billion of lead. One drinking fountain had two parts per billion and another had four parts per billion.

The district doesn’t currently have plans to test fixtures at the high school, superintendent Ron Spanjer said.

“As of this year, everything that kids would be drawing water from for drinking or use in the kitchen would be newer faucets,” he said. Lead issues are typically found in older faucets, he added. Lead typically leaches into water from older, corroding fixtures rather than directly from the water source, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

State lawmakers passed funding to test for lead in public school water in 2017, after two elementary schools in Tacoma found fixtures with lead levels up to hundreds or even thousands of parts per billion.

Childhood lead exposure increases risks for hearing, speech, learning and behavior problems, brain and nervous system damage and slowed growth and development, according to the CDC.

See full test results for Blaine Middle School here: data.wa.gov/Health/Blaine-Middle-School/92n2-g5u8/

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