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Science and Innovations

ADEQ: Public Schools Safe from Lead in Drinking Water

CDC/Amanda Mills

Arizona is the first state to complete a comprehensive, voluntary screening program to check for lead in public school drinking water.  KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

Trevor Baggiore of the Arizona Department of Water Quality says the agency collected water samples from every public school district building in the state.

Baggiore says, "The idea was that we want to go in and screen these buildings to know if we have a problem. The findings are actually very encouraging for us. We found that 96 percent of the fixtures we tested did not have a problem and were below the screening level we were checking."

The remaining four percent, or about 400 drinking water fixtures, had elevated levels of lead after water sat in the pipes for six hours. Baggiore says ADEQ will work with the Arizona School Facilities Board to make repairs and do further tests. Most of the problematic fixtures occurred in buildings built before 1989.

The screening program was inspired by the water quality crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Read the report or see the testing results for each school on this map.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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