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Feb. 1, 2005

Athletic teams' water remains untested for lead

by Varun Gulati, Page Editor
Two frequently used water sources were not tested in the recent MCPS lead-in-water tests conducted at Blair, according to a report listing the test results. All electric water coolers (fountains) tested at safe lead levels.

Many of Blair's athletic teams consume water from two faucets. One, a tub faucet located in the training room between the boys and girls locker rooms, is used to fill portable water coolers for the teams, according to physical education teacher Cynthia Changuris. MCPS tested the sink faucet and icemaker in the training room but failed to test the tub faucet.
Fume hood water faucets in science labs tested high for lead levels. Diana Frey
Fume hood water faucets in science labs tested high for lead levels.

The second untested faucet is in the stadium concession stand and is used by Blair's baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer and football teams, according to physical education teacher Louis Hoelman. The Athletic Boosters Club also uses the faucet at sporting events, according to member Jill Woo.

In addition, MCPS did not test six of 12 outdoor spigots. The six that they did test had lead levels above 20 parts per billion (ppb), the legal EPA limit. In all of Blair, 455 water sources were tested, and of these, 237 had levels above 20 ppb.

Any lead concentration above 20 ppb is considered hazardous to human health. High levels of lead in drinking water may result in increased blood pressure and kidney problems in adults and mental retardation in children, according to the EPA web site. In organ systems, the effects of lead poisoning are cumulative, remaining up to thirty years in bones, according to an article by Razak Lajis, a pharmacist from the National Poison Center.

Two outdoor faucets were the top offenders in the lead report. The spigot in the staff courtyard and the outdoor spigot near the back entrance of the Studio Art room registered lead levels of 2,309.5 ppb and 1,344.9 ppb, respectively.

Of the top 15 faucets, as opposed to spigots and water coolers, with reported high levels of lead, 12 were in black fume hoods in science classrooms. At least one teacher in each of the 12 classrooms has stated that the faucet has not been used often and that he or she has not seen anyone flush out the violating faucet to deal with lead contamination, as mandated by MCPS.

The highest classroom offender was room 215, which tested at 1,312.61 ppb. As a physics classroom, room 215 has never had cause to use its fume hood, according to physics teacher Karen Hillmer. "I, frankly, did not know that there was a faucet in [the fume hood]," she said.

Three cafeteria kitchen faucets used for hand-washing had lead levels between 66 ppb and 75 ppb. The two faucets in the kitchen used for salad-rinsing and Ramen noodle water tested safe at lead levels of 7.3 ppb and 9.1 ppb respectively. All faucets in the kitchen that are meant for drinking water are flushed 15 minutes every four hours daily, according to Blair's cafeteria manager, Maddalena Bianchini.

The sinks for rinsing dishes, the faucets for drinking water and the hand-washing sinks are all located in separate areas in the kitchen. The cafeteria has never received any assistance in flushing faucets and has never been instructed to flush hand-washing sinks.

In a letter distributed to students last month, Principal Philip Gainous wrote that Blair's flushing protocol includes flushing all electric water coolers for 15 minutes every four hours and water bubblers and kitchen faucets for 60 seconds every four hours. Blair does not flush outdoor spigots since they are not child-accessible drinking-water sources, according to Building Service Manager Quentin Middleton.

In an e-mail last week, Sean Yarup, Environmental Safety Manager for MCPS, wrote that outdoor spigots are a secondary drinking water source. "Outdoor spigots at all schools were tested because some have the potential for use by individuals involved in athletic activities," he said. MCPS requires all potential drinking water sources other than coolers to be flushed for 60 seconds to prevent lead contamination.

Lead enters tap water through corrosion of plumbing materials. Before 1986, plumbing materials generally contained a high amount of lead. However, even "lead-free" pipes used in modern plumbing may contain up to eight percent lead, which can increase the lead level in the water in the first several months after installation.

Benjamin Banneker Middle School reported a lead level of 40,206.3 ppb, the highest of any water source in MCPS. The offending source is in a girls' bathroom from an indoor spigot which no one drinks from, according to Elizabeth Cole, Banneker's administrative secretary. So far, 185 MCPS facilities have been tested for elevated levels of lead.

The following water sources registered lead concentrations above 20 ppb in the lead report:

Location ppb Fume hood? Comments
Staff Courtyard 2309.5 No
Outside 1344.9 No
Room 215 1312.61 Yes "I, frankly, did not know that there was a faucet in [the fume hood]." - Karen Hillmer
Room 352 1173.6 Yes "I've never had cause to turn [the fume hood faucet] on." - Nicole Hopkins
Room 332 644.496 Yes "[The fume hood is] probably not used very often." - Wendell Hall
Room 321 515.7 Yes
Room 319 Storage 499.53 Yes "I haven't used [the fume hood faucet] in three years." - Mary Nawabi
Room 323 475.648 Yes "I've never seen [the fume hood faucet] used." - James Demma
Room 345 429.6 Yes "In the three years I have been here, [the fume hood faucet] has never been used." - Pat Miller
Room 212 394.366 Yes "I don't think [the fume hood has] ever been flushed." - Janice Blitz
Room 214 315.5 Yes "No one comes in here to flush that faucet that I know of." - Leslie Rogers
Aud. Concessions 303.2 No
Room 325 292.222 Yes "[The fume hood faucet] is used maybe four times a year." - Ralph Bunday
Room 331 283.813 Yes "There are usually things in [the fume hood] that shouldn't be disrupted." - Melanie Rock
Room 362 256.713 Yes "[The fume hood faucet is] used very infrequently" - Elanie Goldberg
Room 321 242.679

Room 329 222.679 Yes
Room 323 221.234 No
Room 365 190.799 Yes
Room 362 166.722
No
Room 332 164.199 No
Room 365 158.16 No
Room 363 156.079 Yes
Room 327 152.82 Yes
Room 345 145.318 No
Room 356 135.137 No
Room 356 133.487 Yes
Room 352 132.826 No
Room 365 128.662 No
Room 362 Prep 127.408 No
Room 344 125.789

Room 327 123.8 No
Room 344 123.55

Room 212 114.998 No
Room 363 106.116 No
Room 213 104.19 No
Room 365 103.822 No
Room 365 102.681 No
Room 212 100.763 No
Room 214 99.8 No
Room 365 98.735 No
Room 365 97.548 No
Outside 95.4 No
Room 371 95.2

Room 321 91.306

Room 321 90.442

Room 213 Prep 89.5 No
Room 214 89.492 No
Room 325 85.97 No
Outside 79.8 No
Room 325 79.188 No
Room 365 78.729 No
Room 213 76.773 No
Room 365 76.616 No
Room 9 Storage 75.1 No
Room 331 74.911 No
Kitchen 74.4 No Sink is only used for washing hands, according to Raina Guididl
Room 214 74.249 No
Room 9 Storage 74 No
Stage Shop 72.9 No
Room 362 70.816 No
Room 365 70.441 No
Room 214 69.162 No
Room 329 67.443 No
Kitchen 67.4 No
Room 7 67.3 No
Room 329 67.11 No
Kitchen 66.1 No Hand-washing sink
Room 325 65.027 No
Room 325 64.916 No
Room 213 64.852 No
HR Workroom 63.7

Room 212 63.205 No
Room 212 63.16 No
Room 325 63.136 No
Room 215 61.621 No
Room 214 61.551 No
Room 365 59.419 No
Room 363 59.215 No
Room 365 59.078 No
Room 365 57.279 No
Room 323 57.228 No
Room 325 56.657 No
Room 214 Storage 56.3 No
Room 365 55.479 No
Room 214 54.855 No
Room 356 54.691 No
Room 323 54.412 No
Room 362 53.418 No
Room 215 53.314 No
Room 331 53.184 No
Room 5 53.1 No
Room 345 Prep 52.616 No
Room 331 52.556 No
Room 213 52.5

Room 214 52.491 No
Room 215 52.205 No
Room 215 51.381 No
Room 214 50.724 No
Room 9 50.7 No
Room 356 50.322 No
Outside 50.2 No
Room 352 50.109 No
Room 9 50.1 No
Room 356 49.826 No
Room 11 49.8 No
BDR 49.5 No
Room 331 49.313 No
Room 325 49.195 No
Room 325 47.666 No
Room 328 Storage 47.271 No
Room 212 47.166 No
Room 344 46.648

Room 325 46.286 No
Room 213 Prep 46 No
Room 215 45.958 No
Room 7 45.9 No
Room 211 45.803

Room 325 45.723 No
Outside 45.5 No
Room 363 45.339 No
Room 325 45.029 No
Room 325 44.704 No
Stage Shop 44 No
Room 332 43.216 No
Room 362 43.072 No
GDR 42.7 No
Room 363 42.266 No
Room 344 42.081

Room 345 41.783 No
Room 362 Prep 41.315 No
Room 327 40.779 No
Room 331 40.605 No
Room 11 40.2 No
Room 356 39.795 No
Room 319 Storage 39.795 No
Room 331 39.375 No
Room 352 39.173 No
Room 331 39.139 No
Stage Shop 39 No
Room 323 38.476 No
Room 352 38.19 No
Room 344 38.049

Room 213 37.989

Room 323 37.984 No
Room 363 37.857 No
Room 323 37.276 No
Room 4 36.9 No
Room 321 36.62 No
Room 323 36.339 No
Room 158 36.2 No
Room 321 35.123 No
Stage Shop 35 No
Room 329 34.66 No
Room 345 34.541 No
Room 321 34.5 No
Room 321 34.185 No
Room 363 34.151 No
Room 7 34 No
Room 365 33.919 No
Room 11 33.8 No
Room 9 33.8 No
Room 363 33.751 No
Room 363 33.242 No
Outside 33.1 No
Stage Shop 33 No
Room 363 32.182 No
Room 363 32.048 No
Room 363 32.038 No
Room 345 31.981 No
Room 215 31.778 No
Room 327 31.761 No
Room 345 31.458 No
Room 325 31.445 No
Room 1 31.4 No
Outside 31 No
Room 330 30.96

Room 362 30.942 No
Room 321 30.864

Room 7 30.8 No
Room 319 Storage 30.404 No
Room 344 30.308

Room 327 30.264 No
Room 363 60.242 No
Room 329 60.216

Room 327 29.671 No
Room 331 29.361 No
Room 329 29.262

Makeup 29.1 No
Room 352 28.99 No
Room 321 28.241

Room 310 27.7

Room 344 27.696

Room 354 27.434

Room 363 27.419 No
Room 356 Prep 27.388 No
Room 371 26.72

BDR 26.5 No
Room 331 26.413 No
Room 345 26.191 No
Room 352 26.165 No
Room 331 25.968 No
Room 323 25.933 No
Room 321 25.9

Room 331 25.471 No
Room 331 25.458 No
GDR BR 24.9 No
Room 363 24.842 No
Room 345 24.818 No
Room 332 24.693 No
Room 323 24.572 No
Room 213 24.504

Room 331 24.41 No
Room 345 24.237 No
Room 321 24.126

Room 7 23.8 No
Room 345 23.718 No
Room 323 23.699 No
Room 323 Prep 23.627 No
Room 329 23.599

Room 365 23.421 No
Room 7 23.3 No
Room 323 23.055 No
Room 331 22.968 No
Stage Shop 22.9 No
Room 9 22.8 No
Room 4 22.7 No
Room 327 22.544 No
Room 215 22.503 No
Room 214 22.094 No
Room 332 22.067 No
Room 332 21.899 No
Room 352 21.704 No
Room 1 21.4 No
Room 344 21.168

Room 345 Prep 20.656 No
Room 362 20.258 No




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  • gj! on February 1, 2005 at 5:43 PM
    good job varun!
  • Why all in 3rd floor? on February 1, 2005 at 6:00 PM
    Why are most of the lead on the 3rd floor? And, why are there so many sinks? Most of the classroom I have been in doesn't have anything that has water.
  • alexa on February 1, 2005 at 6:34 PM
    GREAT JOB! I know it took a lot of work for you to go around to every classroom and label the water sources, and I am very thankful. Hopefully teachers in rooms listed with high lead levels will be careful not to use those water sources ever again, or at least take the time to flush them regularly.
  • Izaak Orlansky (View Email) on February 2, 2005 at 2:39 PM
    Great job continuing to follow this issue. While the rest of the D.C. metro region has decided that lead is not important anymore (even though nothing has changed), Silver Chips has continued to dig around. Keep it up.
  • christine on February 2, 2005 at 6:51 PM
    varun you're the best
  • what a waste on February 2, 2005 at 11:22 PM
    These fume hoods sound like a heck of a boondoggle if you ask me.
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