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Votes

Lead No Cause for Concern, Says County

<b>First Homes Tested</b>

Following reports of high lead levels in DC water, Arlington county staff took samples at eight homes. When some of those water samples also showed high lead levels, staff expanded testing, and conducted retests at the first eight sites.

Test numbers represent lead molecules per 1 billion molecules of water — 15 parts per billion, in more than 10 percent of samples taken, or 0.015 milligrams per liter of water, represents the EPA “action level” for water system engineers. The EPA action level is not designed, however, to act as an indicator of health effects.

<table border=1 cellpadding=2 cellspacing=0><tr><td><b>Home #</b></td><td><b>1st test*</b></td><td><b>1st retest</b></td><td><b>90 seconds later</b></td><td><b>After use</b></td></tr><tr><td><b>1</b></td><td>342.7</td><td>15.5</td><td>0.0</td><td>-</td></tr><tr><td><b>1a</b></td><td>-</td><td>10.4</td><td>0.0</td><td>-</td></tr><tr><td><b>2</b></td><td>12.0</td><td>-</td><td>-</td><td>-</td></tr><tr><td><b>4</b></td><td>17.6</td><td>1.7</td><td>0.0</td><td>0.0</td></tr><tr><td><b>5</b></td><td>28.2</td><td>0.8</td><td>0.0</td><td>0.6</td></tr><tr><td><b>6</b></td><td>24.9</td><td>0.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>0.0</td></tr><tr><td><b>7</b></td><td>47.3</td><td>1.7</td><td>0.0</td><td>0.0</td></tr><tr><td><b>8</b></td><td>10.8</td><td>-</td><td>-</td><td>-</td></tr><tr><td><b>9</b></td><td>3.0</td><td>-</td><td>-</td><td>-</td></tr></table>

<b>Second Group of Tests</b>

Eight homes were tested in the second round of testing, along with county schools and child care centers. Of those eight homes, only one had lead levels above 15 ppb.

<table border=1 cellpadding=2 cellspacing=0><tr><td><b>Home#</b></td><td><b>1st Draw</b></td><td><b>90 seconds later</b></td></tr><tr><td><b>3</b></td><td>17.2</td><td>-</td></tr><tr><td><b>3a</b></td><td>1.3</td><td>0.0</td></tr><tr><td><b>10</b></td><td>8.2</td><td>3.5</td></tr><tr><td><b>11</b></td><td>1.9</td><td>0.6</td></tr><tr><td><b>12</b></td><td>1.2</td><td>0.6</td></tr><tr><td><b>13</b></td><td>2.6</td><td>1.6</td></tr><tr><td><b>14</b></td><td>1.1</td><td>0.9</td></tr><tr><td><b>15</b></td><td>0.0</td><td>0.0</td></tr><tr><td><b>16</b></td><td>1.2</td><td>0,0</td></tr></table>

<b>School Samples Which Showed Lead</b>

County and school staff took 202 water samples from Arlington’s 40 school buildings. Of those, 185 samples, or 96 percent, showed lead levels below the EPA action level of 15 ppb (The EPA actually requires schools to meet an action level of 20 ppb, but Arlington used the lower number for consistency). Seven samples, from five schools, showed lead levels above 15 ppb.

<table border=1 cellpadding=2 cellspacing=0>

<b>School</b></td><td><b>Tap A</b></td><td><b>B</b></td><td><b>C</b></td><td><b>D</b></td><td><b>E</b></td><td><b>F</b></td></tr><tr><td><b>Ashlawn</b></td><td>34.1</td><td>0.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>3.7</td><td>2.0</td></tr><tr><td><b>Campbell</b></td><td>15.4</td><td>33.2</td><td>0.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>3.3</td><td>0.0</td></tr><tr><td><b>Stratford</b></td><td>0.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>4.3</td><td>28.0</td><td>-</td><td>-</td></tr><tr><td><b>Reed</b></td><td>15.8</td><td>0.0</td><td>6.0</td><td>8.0</td><td>29.5</td><td>12.0</td></tr><tr><td><b>Wilson</b></td><td>18.8</td><td>2.3</td><td>0.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>0.0</td></tr></table>

<b>What Is a PPB?</b>

At Saturday’s Board meeting, Randy Bartlett, the county’s director of infrastructure and operations, offered a clarification about what lead levels in water mean.

Lead levels are discussed as ppb, or “parts per billion.” But what does that mean, County Board members asked. To clarify, Bartlett turned to the world of finance. Yielding one part per billion, he said, would mean that a man with $10 million would give someone else one penny.

On the Web, the University of Alaska at Fairbanks translates parts per billion into actual water consumption. If lead levels in water are 15 parts per billion, the Web site says, “a person would have to drink 2 liters, (a little more than two quarts), of water every day … for a lifetime (which at present is about 70 to 80 years), to have a ‘one in a million chance’” of seeing health effects. Chances increase proportionate to lead levels.

<b>Finding Filters and Tests</b>

Water filter pitchers and faucet attachments are available at some Arlington department stores, like Target, and drugstores, such as CVS, and at the following hardware stores. Currently, Ayers Variety & Hardware is the only county store carrying water test kits.

<b>* Ayers Variety and Hardware</b>

5853 N. Washington Blvd.

703-538-5678

Filters cost $16.99-44.99. Test kits cost $10, with a $15 processing fee.

<b>* Cherrydale Hardware and Garden Center</b>

3805 Lee Highway

703-527-2100

Filters cost $29.

<b>* Virginia Hardware Company</b>

2915 Wilson Blvd.

703-522-3366

Filters cost $34-49. Showerhead filters are available as well, for $59.