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Lead in Cabin John’s Water

Lead levels more than ten times the federal standard have been found in the water in Cabin John Middle School, Montgomery County Public Schools officials announced late on Tuesday.

“The very high results are not from designated drinking fountains,” said Brian Porter, spokesperson for Montgomery County Public Schools. Porter said that sinks are typically the water sources with elevated levels.

Of 71 locations tested in Cabin John, seven had levels over the federal standard of 20 parts per billion. The highest level indicated was 237.9 and the lowest 0.3 parts per billion. The median was 2.6 parts per billion, according to information released by the school system.

The high samples in each of the school will be retested to determine the validity of the results.

In addition, Bells Mills Elementary has been added to the list of schools to be tested.

Responding to elevated lead level in other jurisdictions in the region, Montgomery County Public Schools began testing the water at 20 schools across the county. Cabin John was the only Potomac school on the initial list.

After the first three schools tested positive for elevated levels of lead, the school system increased the pace of its testing program.

On April 13, the schools released the results for four schools, including Cabin John, all of which had at least some elevated lead levels. Elevated lead levels have been found at some water sources in each of the nine schools tested so far.

After the first schools tested positive, the school system began flushing all water sources for 15 minutes every four hours, and Cabin John is no exception according to information released by the schools. The tested water at each of the schools was taken from water sources which had not yet been flushed, said Porter.

The schools are also beginning to test the water after flushing to determine its efficacy. “The health department has started that,” Porter said. The results of the post-flush water sources are not yet available.

The schools have also begun testing water at a second group of 20 schools across the county. Bells Mill Elementary is scheduled to have its water tested on April 16. It is the only Potomac school on the list for the second round of testing.

Elevated lead levels in the bloodstream are associated with mental and physical disabilities and delays.

The school system has set up a webpage to give information about the progress of the testing and included links to other sites with information about lead in water at www.mcps.k12.md.us/info/emergency/water.