Data: 90 percent of Utah schools testing water find lead

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Tests show nine Utah schools have drinking water with amounts of lead higher than U.S. government guidelines and about 90 percent of schools that have voluntarily tested their water found at least some amount of lead.

Only 25 of 249 Utah schools that tested their drinking water found it was lead free, but most of the schools that tested positive for lead had low levels of the metal, according to the Utah Division of Drinking Water.

The tests are voluntary and only about a quarter of Utah’s schools have been tested thus far, The Salt Lake Tribune reported ( ).

Six of the nine schools with lead levels above federal guidelines are in the Salt Lake area’s Granite School District. The others three schools were in the Box Elder School District and North Summit School District.

Marie Owens, director of the Utah Division of Drinking Water, said most of the samples were taken after buildings were empty and lead was able to accumulate in stagnant water. She says officials don’t think the results show what lead levels are like when school is in session.

Utah officials said they’re monitoring the schools to ensure their water systems are regularly flushed even on weekends and holidays.

In eight of the schools, the high levels of lead came from one sources, typically a kitchen or utility sink, which could signal the lead may not be throughout the entire building’s system, Owens said.

Utah Poison Control medical director Zane Horowitz says parents should be informed about lead levels at their children’s school but not panic because lead poisoning usually occurs after consuming large amounts of tainted water of months or years.

“It usually takes months or years of exposure, like a child rolling around in dusty lead paint,” Horowitz said.

Lead can cause developmental delays in young children.

The U.S. government requires regular testing of residential drinking water systems but not school systems.

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