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full disclosure, mapping of lead affected areas, comprehensive testing of city schools, recreations centers, libraries,

and licensed child care facilities, public outreach and education, particularly among hard-to-reach populations

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LEAD AND D.C. Schools

See NRDC Statement Regarding Flawed Testing Methodology Used for Drinking Water in D.C. public schools

See why we need full lead contamination data for D.C. public schools!



April 30 Retesting Finds Lead Levels High At D.C. Schools, Closing Down 43 Sinks

March 19 3/19  2 Area School Districts Restrict Water Use while D.C. does the opposite although tests reveal 9 schools with high lead levels

March 9 D.C. Schools Reportedly to be Retested, Expansion of Testing of facilities that serve children to begin                

As of Feb. 25, 2004   D.C. public schools and archdiocese schools report results

Also, see how Seattle parents have fought to keep stop consumption of lead-toxic water by Seattle public school students See model legislation for protecting school children from lead-poisoned water


Tests were conducted on samples drawn from D.C. public schools drinking fountains and sinks. (Note that the samples were drawn after the water had been flushed for 10 minutes.  Many experts believe that the sampling is invalid because children do not run fountains or sinks for 10 minutes prior to consuming the water).  Background: City to test water in public schools; Private school testing underway 


 There were 752 samples collected throughout the D.C. public school system and 8 tested positive.  They are the following:  See DCPS press release.

Prospect Learning Center at Douglass in S.E.

Kenilworth Elementary in N.E.

Bell Multicultural Senior High in N.W.

Dunbar Senior High in N.W.

H.D. Woodson Senior High in N.E.

Eliot Junior High in N.E.

Ballou Senior High in S.E.

Penn Center in N.E. 

(Source: Washington Post, Wed. Feb 25, 2004)


The Catholic archdiocese schools that tested positive for high lead levels were the following:

St. Francis Xavier in S.E. (drinking fountain)

St. Francis de Sales in N.E.  (kitchens, sinks for pre-k and kindergarten)

(Source: Washington Post, Wed. Feb 25, 2004)


Scheduling Blood Testing

Effects of Lead on Infants and Young Children

Experts Differ Local Pediatrician and Expert Dr. Jerome Paulson

City to test water in public schools; Private school testing underway

EPA Guidance on Lead in Schools and Day Care Settings;

Clearinghouse on lead in educational facilities


1.  Scheduling Blood Lead Testing

     Private Practitioners.  One large hospital pediatric practice, deluged with requests for blood lead tests on young children, after the lead story broke, established a policy of refusing to administer tests to children over one year of age.  Please contact us with any information that you have about the accessibility of blood lead testing.

      D.C. Department of Health Testing.  To Schedule a Blood Lead Test with the D.C. Department of Health, please contact (202)535-2690.


2.  Effects of Lead on Infants and Young Children

Experts differ on the health effects of lead testing, particularly on young children.  Please see this article for that discussion:  Experts on Health Effects:   February 3, 2004 Experts Differ on Threat in D.C. Tap Water.  

Also see Actions You Can Take To Reduce Lead in Drinking Water (by the US EPA)

According to this EPA publication, health threats from lead are grave.  The document states that "(t)oo much lead in the human body can cause serious damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous system, and red blood cells. You have the greatest risk, even with short term exposure, if:  you are a young child, or you are pregnant."

Of particular concern to many Washington residents is the impact that lead poisoning can have on children under age 6, unborn children through their pregnant mothers, and infants through formula mixtures and breast milk.

Local Pediatrician and Expert: Dr. Jerome Paulson,  www.health-e-kids.org

According to Dr. Jerome Paulson, pediatrician, George Washington University and the Mid Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment, in testimony before the City Council of Washington D.C on the matter of lead in drinking water (see http://www.health-e-kids.org), on February 4, 2004.  Lead poisoning is a public health problem (although lead from paint poses the greatest danger). 


Highlights from testimony of Dr. Paulson:

Lead is a cumulative neurotoxin in children.

Small amounts build up and have the potential to cause brain damage.

Children drink more water per pound per day than adults.

They absorb a larger proportion of lead than do adults.

Lead has the greatest potential for damage in the immature brain:  prior to birth and within the first few years of birth.


Also at risk are the offspring of lead-exposed pregnant women.  The risk is related to how much builds in the body.  The effects range from attention deficit to language problems.  The effects are irreversible. 


See Dr. Paulson's criteria for who should be tested and which levels of lead exposure are toxic. 


There is disagreement about the levels that cause damage in children.


Lead Testing in schools and day care settings.  See the following:


EPA Guidance on Lead in Schools and Day Care Settings



National Resources Defense Council, excerpt from February 26, 2004 NRDC press release, condemning methodology used to test drinking water in D.C. public schools..


"The coalition also denounced WASA's recent test of lead levels in 752 fountains and faucets at 154 D.C. public schools as "incompetent at best, and willfully misleading at worst." WASA officials conceded that they generally ran water for 10 minutes before testing for lead, which flushed out the high lead levels in virtually all cases. Such an approach is contrary to standard EPA and scientific lead testing protocols, according to LEAD, and gave District parents a false sense that there is no lead problem in schools."


EXCERPT FROM LETTER BY advocate for Seattle public school students, Mark Cooper, Ph.D. concerning the need to reveal lead contamination data for D.C. public schools' drinking water (forwarded letter written Feb. 29, 2004)


"[D.C. residents] may wish to see another city's Lead contamination data for public schools.  D.C. school children could have been exposed to high levels of Lead in their schools, as well as their homes.  The D.C. schools need to be tested again immediately to understand the magnitude of Lead exposure that school children have experienced.

Under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, schools are treated as private residences, and are therefore not usually tested by regulatory agencies, unless there is a State law that requires this.  In Washington State, we have no such law. 

Seattle parents have encountered the same sequence of administrative events that D.C. residents have experienced:  officials knew about the Lead contamination (in the Seattle Schools, for over 10 years!), no one was notified, the problem was concealed during parent investigation, finally adisplay of surprise and obfuscation by School District officials once the data was revealed.

  You can quickly find out more about the Seattle school situation by using
Google:  Seattle Schools lead water."