Get to know D.C. with our daily newsletter
We dive deep on the day’s biggest story and share links to everything you need to know.
Last week, two D.C. Council committees held a joint hearing on lead testing in public facilities like schools.
District officials in April admitted that water sources had to be turned off at Capitol Hill Montessori @ Logan, Miner Elementary, and Payne Elementary after testing showed an elevated level of lead in their water. A new blitz of testing began this spring, and the Department of General Services has published the results of tests done at 113 D.C. public schools in April, May, and June. Using these documents, Washington City Paper hascreated a chart that shows which schools had the highest test results.
For this chart, we only included schools that had results at or above the federal action level. That number, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is 15 parts per billion (or ppb) for lead in public water systems. (The District government recently announced that it would change its action level from 15 ppb to 1 ppb.) When DGS and its contractors tested the water, they did a first draw (when the water had been sitting in the pipes for at least six hours) then a second draw after the water was flushed for 60 seconds. The chart shows the higher result of the two draws, which was usually the first. You can see the raw results in spreadsheet form here.
More than 60 public schools—64, to be exact—had a water source test positive for a level of lead at or higher than 15 ppb. In response to the test results, according to the DGS documents, a filter was installed at every sink, fountain, and other water source. DGS is in the process of installing filters on all drinking water sources at every D.C. school.
DCPS said on its website in early June that “after more than 3,700 tests, DGS identified 17 water sources at 12 schools with lead levels above the EPA standard.” A spokeswoman clarified that those numbers referred to testing done during the last school year; the language no longer appears on DCPS’ website.
Research by Daniel Barnes and Raye Weigel. Chart by Zach Rausnitz.