Testing for Lead in Drinking Water
On April 9, 2018, Maryland House Bill (HB) 270 went into effect. It requires all Maryland school systems to test for lead in all drinking water outlets that have their water supplied by a public utility. Examples of drinking water outlets include, but are not limited to, drinking water fountains, kitchen sinks, Nurse’s Office sinks, classroom sinks, ice machines and any other outlets used for drinking or food prep. For any water outlet not used for drinking water and food prep, appropriate signage must be placed and visible stating that location is for handwashing only. HB 270 testing must be conducted while school is in session, and the bill has three initial testing deadlines. First deadline, any school constructed before 1988 and all elementary schools must be tested before July 1, 2018. Second deadline, middle schools constructed on or after 1988 must be tested before July 1, 2019. Final deadline, high schools constructed on or after 1988 must be tested before July 1, 2020. For any school built after HB 270 went into effect, the school must be tested within 12 months of the date of occupation.
HB 270 set a maximum contaminant level of 20 parts per billion (ppb). If a water sample exceeds the 20 ppb limit then the following steps must occur. Within 24 hours of being notified of an elevated result, access must be closed off to the outlet. Within five days of being notified, the outlet must be flushed and sampled again. Within ten days of being notified, the school must provide a written notice detailing all elevated sample results to the parents/legal guardians, faculty and staff of that location. Thirty days after receiving all laboratory results, any elevated results must be posted on the school’s website.
What Calvert County Public Schools (CCPS) has done:
For the 2017-2018 school year, HB 270 only required testing of drinking water outlets in schools constructed before 1988 and all elementary schools receiving water from a public utility. As a precaution, CCPS went beyond those requirements and also tested elementary schools with their own individual well(s). When notified of an elevated sample, written notices were distributed to all students and staff. The elevated notice contained the following information: elevated sample’s concentration and location, summary of federal and state drinking water standards, health effects of lead, sources of human exposure to lead, immediate actions taken and remediation, steps consumers can take to reduce exposure and the school’s contact information. HB 270 requires only elevated samples to be posted online, but CCPS has made all testing results available.