Lead, copper eliminated from local Mass. schools after testing

(WPRI) — Water from certain fixtures at schools in three southeastern Massachusetts towns tested positive for lead and copper, according to recent tests released by the state Department of Environmental Protection. But all affected fixtures have now been replaced, local school officials say.

The state of Massachusetts funded the $2 million voluntary program to test school water supplies. More than 800 schools participated across 150 communities.

Several schools in Attleboro, Fall River, and New Bedford tested positive for lead and/or copper.

RELATEDRhode Island Schools test negative for lead | Rhode Island Dept. of Health School Lead Results

The testing took place between May 2016 through February 2017. Every water fixture in participating schools was tested, from sinks to drinking fountains.

Children who are exposed to high levels of lead can face learning problems, slowed growth, anemia and more.

Attleboro’s schools that tested “above action levels” have had fixtures replaced, said superintendent David Sawyer. “The testing showed that there were certain fixtures that were not used regularly, so water was sitting in them and a certain amount of lead was leaching into the water. All of those fixtures have been replaced or shut off. All of the water the students have access to is safe,” he said in a statement.

New Bedford Schools business manager Andrew O’Leary said all of the problematic fixtures in his district had been sitting idle for several months, or even years. They’ve also been fixed: “Overall, we tested about 4,000 fixtures, and we had a response rate of about 5 percent [above the threshold]. All of those fixtures were shut off,” O’Leary said.

As of noontime Tuesday, there was no response from officials in the Fall River school district.

Part of the program included teaching the school districts how to test their water themselves. The Massachusetts DEP encourages schools to check their water at least every one to two years.

Above-threshold schools
(If your school is not listed, lead and copper were below the “action level”)

ATTLEBORO

  • Studley Elementary (Lead)
  • Willett Elementary (Lead and Copper)
  • Thacher Elementary (Lead)
  • Coelho Middle (Lead and Copper)
  • Brennan Middle (Lead and Copper)
  • Wamsutta Middle (Lead and Copper)
  • Attleboro High (Lead and Copper)
  • Briggs Corner School (Lead and Copper)
  • Finberg Public Day School (Lead and Copper)
  • Old Attleboro High (Lead and Copper)

FALL RIVER

  • North End Elementary (Lead)
  • Viveiros Elementary (Lead)
  • Letourneau Elementary (Lead)
  • Doran (Lead)
  • Greene (Lead)
  • Watson (Lead)
  • Talbot Innovation School (Lead)
  • Kuss Middle (Lead and Copper)
  • Resiliency Preparatory School (Lead)
  • Durfee High (Lead)
  • Diman Regional Voc-Tech High (Lead)

NEW BEDFORD

  • Brooks (Lead)
  • Campbell (Lead)
  • Carney Academy (Lead)
  • Gomes (Lead)
  • Hannigan (Lead and Copper)
  • Hathaway (Lead)
  • Hayden/Mcfadden (Lead and Copper)
  • Abraham Lincoln (Lead)
  • Parker (Lead)
  • Pulaski (Lead and Copper)
  • Rodman (Lead)
  • Swift (Lead)
  • Winslow (Lead)
  • Normandin Middle (Lead)
  • Roosevelt Middle (Lead)
  • New Bedford High (Lead)
  • Whaling City Junior-Senior High (Lead)