Lead in Our Schools: The Case for Testing

Many school districts have participated in the State Water Resources Control Board’s new lead testing program, which requires local water agencies to provide free lead testing to any K-12 schools they service. One such school district, San Diego Unified, has identified yet another one of its schools as having elevated levels of lead in drinking water fountains.

Birney Elementary School is the third school in the district found to have lead levels that exceed State drinking water standards. In March, test results at Emerson-Bandini Elementary and the San Diego Co-Operative Charter School 2 showed drinking water with more than twice the acceptable level of lead. Moreover, San Diego is not the only area affected, as testing has identified elevated levels of lead in drinking water at schools in San Ysidro and San Marcos.

Under the State Board program, if a K-12 school official requests lead testing its public water system is responsible for collecting water samples within three months of the request, having the samples analyzed by an ELAP-accredited laboratory, and reporting the results to the school within two business days of receiving the results—all free of charge. The water system is required to collect up to 5 samples at each school requesting assistance. To view the sampling plan and protocols, visit the DDW’s Lead Sampling of Drinking Water in California Schools website.

Babcock Laboratories is both ELAP and NELAP accredited and has over 20 years of experience determining ultra-trace amounts of lead in drinking water using EPA method 200.8, which is the testing method required by the State Board for this program. In addition to lead, Babcock Laboratories offers a suite of heavy metal testing services for drinking water. If you are interested in our heavy metal testing services, including lead testing, please contact our Director of Client Services, Cathy Iijima.

As is evident by these recent cases in San Diego, this testing program is helping schools and water agencies address potential safety issues so that they can take immediate action to ensure that our children and teachers are consuming clean and safe drinking water. We are proud to lend our support to public water systems as they continue to protect public health under this new program.