Tap Water at Boston Public Schools Under New Scrutiny

Officials have pledged better testing for lead contamination.

Photo (Edited) by ThoseGuys119 on Flickr/Creative Commons

Photo (Edited) by ThoseGuys119 on Flickr/Creative Commons

Boston Public Schools officials have pledged better testing for hazardous lead contamination in the 37 buildings in America’s oldest public school system that still use tap water for drinking.

In fact, the water at nearly two-thirds of these school buildings has not been tested in at least six years, the Globe reports. High levels of lead were previously found in samples from three school buildings using tap water for drinking, including one where a bubbler had seven times more lead than the state standard.

While Boston Public Schools’ water testing does meet its legal requirements, 92 buildings still use bottled water for fear of lead contamination. Starting at the end of this school year, officials say they’ll step up testing.

“The Boston Public Schools considers the health and well-being of its students a top priority,” spokesman Richard Weir said in a statement. “The district is committed to ensuring that students have access to clean, potable water in all of our schools.”

The federal EPA recommends schools not use water when lead concentration is greater than 20 parts per billion, while the MassDEP recommends no greater than 15 parts per billion. A sample from a kitchen faucet at the Haley Elementary School in Roslindale measured 27.1 parts per billion. A sample from a water fountain at the Chittick Elementary School in Mattapan measured a staggering 115 parts per billion.

Chittick switched to bottled water several weeks later.