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October 07, 2016

All Philadelphia schools to get tested for lead levels in water

The Philadelphia School District will expand its lead testing to every school in the district after finding elevated levels in a handful of drinking fountains.

The district announced that it would retest 40 schools in August in response to public health concerns. So far, 22 results have come back. The district said that 86 percent of the "water outlets" had the safety levels required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

The water fountains that failed the tests were shut off within a 24-hour period, the district said in a statement. Following the results, the district said that every school will now be tested in an expedited process over the course of the next 18-months.

The 40 schools were chosen in August because of the student population's lower blood lead levels and lack of renovations. Preference was also given to elementary and pre-K schools.

“We have developed a Water Program that focuses on providing safe, accessible and appealing water for students in every school," said District Chief Operating Officer Fran Burns in a statement. "Testing for lead concentration, installing hydration stations and promoting education on healthy lifestyles are key aspects of our plan."

As part of the district's Safe Drinking Water Program, 30,000 water fountains were tested between 2000-2010.

The district began a yearlong, $1 million plan called "GreenFutures" that sought to put three water fountains in all schools by the end of the school year. More than 200 fountains have been installed in more than 60 schools, the district said in a statement.