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November 15, 2016

Philadelphia school district expected to complete water lead level testing by June

The School District of Philadelphia announced Tuesday that it will be speeding up its efforts to test for lead levels in its schools and will finish six months ahead of schedule.

Testing in all drinking outlets in the district is set to finish by June 2017. Any result that comes back above 15 parts per billion, an Environmental Agency Guideline, will be replaced with a new unit or removed completely.

As part of the newly announced plan, the district will also install one drinking fountain per every 100 students in the floor of all its schools. It will also broaden testing to other outlets, including within nurses' offices and cold water kitchen sinks, the district said in a news release.

“Testing for lead concentration, installing hydration stations and promoting education on healthy lifestyles continue to remain key aspects of our plan,” District Chief Operating Officer Fran Burns said in a statement. “As part of that commitment we are not only dramatically accelerating our water testing timeline but expanding our lead water testing to add additional outlets throughout schools including nurses' offices and cold water kitchen sinks.”

The district also announced Tuesday that 98 percent of the last 18 schools in Phase I of its water testing plan passed EPA guidelines. In total, 92 percent of the 676 water outlets within Phase I of the district's plan passed lead level safety guidelines.

The district expanded its lead testing back in October to all of its schools after finding elevated levels in some fountains.

In August, the district announced that the lead levels in water outlets in 40 schools would be retested because of public health concerns. As part of the district's Safe Drinking Water Program, 30,000 fountains were tested between 2000-2010. 

Results from the schools can be found on the district's website.