Atlanta schools with high lead levels in drinking water get repairs


Nearly 40 percent of Atlanta school district buildings had high lead levels in one or more water fountains and sinks when Atlanta Public Schools tested its facilities this spring and summer.

After repairs, lead levels in those buildings have dropped, district records obtained under the Georgia Open Records Act show.

But even after repairs, district tests at at least 25 Atlanta schools and other facilities found lead. Levels ranged from 2 parts per billion to 11 parts per billion.

Atlanta began testing this spring, after news of dangerously high lead levels in Flint, Michigan. DeKalb County schools and Fulton County schools are also testing their facilities.

To date, DeKalb has completed testing at two buildings. One, Redan Elementary School, had elevated lead levels in two drinking water sources. Those water sources have been turned off and the district plans to replace fixtures it believes are contributing to lead in the water, according to a statement posted on DeKalb’s water-testing website.

Fulton’s testing program is limited to the 14 district buildings with plumbing systems or components installed before 1986. The testing started last week and results are expected by the end of next week, district spokesperson Susan Hale said.

The Atlanta school district plans to develop a regular water testing schedule and flush all taps and fountains in schools unoccupied for longer than seven days.

No law requires testing water for lead in Georgia schools or day care centers.

And there’s no state or federal rule regulating lead in schools’ drinking water. But there are some guidelines:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that school water fountains not exceed lead concentrations of 1 part per billion.
  • Federal law requires water systems, such as Atlanta Watershed, to try to reduce lead in drinking water if tests show lead levels above 15 parts per billion.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that schools and child care facilities make repairs if any samples from any one drinking water source show results above 20 parts per billion.

Even low levels of lead in children’s blood can result in behavior and learning problems, lower IQ, slowed growth and other problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Education

Opinion: Don’t alter school calendar to increase pool of summer workers
Opinion: Don’t alter school calendar to increase pool of summer workers

T. Jameson Brewer is an assistant professor of teacher education at the University of North Georgia. In this inaugural guest column for the AJC Get Schooled blog, Brewer discusses the tourism-driven effort in the Senate to change the school calendar.   Tourist attractions say they are hurt by early August start dates because they lose student...
5 things to know about Georgia’s back-to-school start-date debate
5 things to know about Georgia’s back-to-school start-date debate

The weather is only just turning crisp in metro Atlanta, but by now many students have been in school for 2½ months.  As the leaves change and the days cool, a group of state senators already is thinking about summer break — and whether it’s too short.  A Senate study committee created to review the school calendar met...
APS project shows good use of public, private money, Carstarphen says
APS project shows good use of public, private money, Carstarphen says

Plans to build a new Atlanta school and community health center using public and private dollars received a $3.5 million boost from corporate donors. The project in northwest Atlanta has been hailed by the Atlanta Public Schools superintendent as an example of the kind of development that should attract public investment as a tool to spark neighborhood...
Is college for getting what you want or discovering what’s worth wanting? 
Is college for getting what you want or discovering what’s worth wanting? 

Matthew Boedy, a University of North Georgia professor, talks about the purpose of college in a student’s life and the role and relevance of the much-maligned English major. This is a good column to share with high school students.  By Matthew Boedy My sister has two children, a daughter in middle school and a son in ninth grade. And so...
Mom learns getting out of homelessness can be yearlong climb
Mom learns getting out of homelessness can be yearlong climb

When Jacopa Johnson began her first day on the job last month, she thought in no time, she and her family would be moving from cramped quarters at her father-in-law’s house in Macon to their own residence in Henry County. What she didn’t realize is that she wouldn’t have money coming in for nearly a month. Not wanting to rely on social...
More Stories