Local school awaits lead testing results

Local school awaits lead testing results
Gurney Elementary in Chagrin Falls. (Source: WOIO)

CHAGRIN FALLS, OH (WOIO) - The Ohio EPA posted on their website that Gurney Elementary, a school within the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School District, had two samples from 2015 test in the 90th percentile, with 17 micrograms of lead per liter. A posted message on the EPA's website read, "Children and pregnant women should use bottled water or water from a filtration system that has been certified by an independent testing organization to reduce or eliminate lead for cooking, drinking and baby formula preparation"

On Thursday, Superintendent Robert Hunt sent a letter to parents and posted it on the school's website, along with a timeline of events related to the EPA's testing. He said that there was a discrepancy between what district officials were told and what was posted by the Ohio EPA.

In the letter, Superintendent Hunt says that in August of 2015, the school underwent regularly-scheduled testing and water samples were taken from 10 different locations. Two of those samples were above the "action level" for lead, at 17 micrograms of lead per liter. The action level is 15 micrograms. The cause of higher lead level was likely due to high pH in the water that led to corrosion of copper pipes over summer break.

In early September 2015, the two samples that tested high were retested, and were under 15 micrograms. Later that month, eight more samples were taken and one was found higher than 15.

A local water treatment system company was brought out in October to address the pH issue, and the school changed from powder-based pH balancing supplements to a more effective liquid-based product. The EPA reviewed and approved the changes and the water was balanced and tested for pH.

In November 2015, the EPA told the school that they did not need to monitor tap water anymore, and that the water was safe for consumption. Parents were notified of the results.

Then, on Jan 22, the EPA told the school more samples were needed and testing happened on Wednesday. The school says they anticipate the results on February 3.

Read the full letter and timeline here. 

The school has been in touch with the EPA, and "out of an abundance of caution," the school will be providing bottled water for drinking, and turning off all drinking fountains. The water is still safe to wash hands with. They also plan to test 20 more samples, including the main water line, to ensure the water is safe. The school will remain open.

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