DC adopts tougher lead testing policy at schools, rec centers

WASHINGTON — The District is adopting a tougher testing standard at certain facilities in order to protect children from lead in drinking water.

The new policy at the city’s public schools and parks and recreation centers will change the standard from the EPA’s maximum allowable lead level of 15 parts per billion for the 1 part per billion standard recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

D.C., Deputy City Administrator Kevin Donahue made the announced in a press release Monday evening saying that “lead exposure in children is preventable and we will be working diligently to set policy at our facilities that goes far beyond EPA standards.”

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics in a report called for lead levels of more than 1 PPB to be immediately corrected.

The new lead testing policy in D.C. comes on the heels of the discovery of elevated lead levels at seven drinking water sources at public libraries. The testing was done during the first two weeks of June at all D.C.’s public libraries.

Last year, elevated lead levels were being found at water fountains at about a dozen city schools. But the results were not shared with school principals and parents until months later. No children have tested positive for lead at the schools.

The District government says in a statement that the new standard will cost about $2 million to implement and about $1.5 million a year after that.

The City Council has scheduled a hearing on the schools’ lead testing program for Wednesday.  Donahue is expected to testify about the new policy.

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