One school district was working to combat lead in drinking water that poses health risks to students, and it’s not located in Michigan. San Francisco school officials have found that several of their learning spaces have water with lead levels that exceed state and federal standards.
The announcement came after Detroit Public Schools, a largely Black district, had to shut off water in several of its spaces over a lead scare in August.
In San Francisco, a round of testing revealed that six of out of 136 district schools exceeded federal standards, which say that lead concentrations in drinking water must be below 15 parts per billion, KGO-TV, an ABC-owned television station, reported. Calpirs, a consumer watchdog group, offered a breakdown: Sixty-five schools had less than one part per billion; 66 schools found they had between one and five parts per billion; and 16 schools had lead levels at more than five parts per billions. The numbers showed that most schools met the standards. However, mounting pressures and concerns over schools that were exceeding standards has led to the district working on safety measures to lower the lead levels.
The San Francisco school district was predominantly made up of non-white students, neighboring to Oakland, which is largely Black and part of the Bay area, according to a San Francisco Unified School District report. Oakland also had lead testing in its public schools.
With the lead testing, arguments about the state and federal standards being outdated that were fueling more concerns. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that lead levels be below or at one part per billion — a standard that only 65 of the 136 San Francisco schools were meeting.
San Francisco Unified, saying that the lead levels were due to old pipes and plumbing, quickly expanded its water testing, flushed all pipes and installed filters in most schools to address issues. The district was relying on its plan and further testing as other cities like Detroit and Flint, Michigan, were still struggling with lead water contamination.