Arundel still to receive testing for lead in water sources

By Caitlyn Freeman 

As part of an ongoing testing process, 38 Anne Arundel County Public Schools have tested positive for elevated lead content in their water supply. The county has yet to receive results for 78 schools, including Arundel High School.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools has established an official timeline and process for testing each school in the county. Consumption of water with lead content poses risks for both children and adults, with more serious ramifications when it comes to child consumption.

Ms. Stickney, Business Manager for Arundel High, said that Arundel has tested the school’s water supply frequently in recent years due to students’ requests for data for science projects.

She said that the school replaces the fixtures, which are generally considered the source of possible contamination, on the school’s water fountains, if there appear to be issues with them.

Mr. Kosh, Senior Facility Engineer for Arundel, wrote in an email to The Pulse that he was “not aware of any water testings being conducted by the county.”

Principal Davenport said,  “I know that there’s a lot of very strict guidelines about how the water is to be tested and the county is doing its best to get the testing done as soon as possible. We have not yet been tested. So, […] I really can’t comment on that until the testing is complete.”

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Photo by Evangeline Fox

According to a webpage which AACPS made in order to update the public of this ongoing testing, schools have been grouped based on their proximity to Martel Laboratories JDS Inc., a private lab hired to conduct the testing.

Due to concerns about inclement weather, they are testing the schools farthest from the lab –which is located in Towson — first. Area  two, where Arundel is located, will be tested last. The county is no longer testing non-consumable water sources, in order to expedite the testing process.  According to an October 6th story in the Capital Gazette, the county plans to be finished with testing by July 1st, 2019.

The County didn’t begin testing on a whim. On May 4th, 2017, Governor Larry Hogan signed into law a bill that requires the Maryland Department of the Environment in conference with the State Department of Education, the Department of General Services, and Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Department to develop regulations in order to periodically test water sources for lead in school buildings that use public water. This bill, HB 270, went into effect on June 1st, 2017. However, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment, the regulations for testing the water went into effect April 9th, 2018. Anne Arundel County Public Schools began testing in March 2018.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, lead can enter drinking water when pipes, particularly in areas with high acidity or low mineral content, contain lead corrode.

Children are more vulnerable to lead exposure as a result of the physical and behavioral effects that can occur even with low exposure levels. If an adult consumes a small amount of lead, they may experience little impact, although it can result in reproductive issues for both men and women, cardiovascular issues, and decreased kidney function.  However, if a child is exposed at a low level, they may suffer damage to the peripheral and central nervous systems, learning disabilities, impaired formation and function of blood cells, growth, hearing, and risk of anemia.

In an interview with The Pulse, Bob Mosier, Chief Communications Officer for Anne Arundel County Public Schools, stated that students attending schools that have yet to receive testing should “be concerned, but informed.”

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Photo by Evangeline Fox

Mosier also stated that students are, “not at risk at all from a single swig.”

According to Mosier, water outlets that have tested positive for lead contents will be shut off until retesting occurs and a negative result appears. Retesting will not happen until all schools have received initial testing.

For updates on the water testing as well as school by school results, visit https://www.aacps.org/watertestresults