A letter from Superintendent Dr. William Silver:
As you may know, this September Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new law that requires public schools in New York to test all water outlets currently or potentially used for drinking or cooking purposes for lead levels.
Per the law, if the lead level from a water outlet exceeds the state’s action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb), the district will take immediate action to remedy the problem. To put this number into perspective, the NYS Department of Health uses the 15 ppb action level to promote remediation of a water outlet rather than to identify a health-based or exposure level.
Like many school districts around the region, Liberty Central School District test results show elevated levels of lead in several water outlets. At this point, we now have preliminary results for all three schools. The results are available on the district’s website, www.libertyk12.org.
At Liberty High School, 189 water sources were tested and 33 showed elevated levels of lead, most of which were sinks in the science labs.
As a precaution, all of the affected sinks have signs posted on them and all of the drinking fountains have been shut off. The district will collaborate with engineers and environmental specialists to determine next steps, which could include the replacement or remediation of water pipes and fixtures. As a follow-up, additional water tests will be conducted to determine if the replacement/remediation was successful.
The health and safety of students and staff is a top priority for the Liberty Board of Education and school administration. We will continue to test all our school buildings and will keep you updated as we learn more.
According to the EPA, lead in drinking water is rarely the sole cause of lead poisoning. Additionally, human skin does not absorb lead in water so even if water contains lead over the state’s action level, it is safe for hand washing, cleaning, or science applications. For more information about lead levels and drinking water, visit the EPA’s website.
Please be assured we are taking the necessary steps to address the situation and to ensure the safety of our students and staff throughout the district.