Fairfax County: Kaine Requests Funding for School Drinking Water Testing

Fairfax County: Kaine Requests Funding for School Drinking Water Testing

FCPS developing testing plan; last test was 2004.

Childhood lead-elevated blood level cases in Fairfax Health District since 2005

2005: 11

2006: 41

2007: 16

2008: 26

2009: 33

2010: 31

2011: 21

2012: 18

2013: 16

2014: 26

2015: 21

This data is also available online at www.vdh.virginia.go….

In response to the lead contamination of drinking water of Flint, Michigan, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine joined 24 other senators asking Congress for funding to have school drinking water tested for lead and other toxins.

“While we recognize the need to make difficult choices in the current fiscal environment,” the lawmakers wrote in a joint letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, “we strongly believe that investing in lead prevention and mitigation now will reduce future costs associated with the need for additional health care and remedial educational services.”

A source within Kaine’s office said they’re not aware of any specific problems in Fairfax County Public Schools related to lead or other contamination of the drinking water.

But they said the funds could still be used by the school system for testing to identify any such issues.

According to FCPS spokesperson John Torre, the schools do not currently test water or students for lead, as it’s not required by state or federal law.

Though, he said in an email, “As a precautionary measure, FCPS is currently in the process of developing a water testing plan for schools.”

FCPS and Kaine’s office have not been in contact about the future plan thus far. Torre did not respond regarding details of the plan or an estimated timeline for its creation and implementation.

Torre referred to Fairfax Water, which provides drinking water to the schools, that claims it began testing in the early 1990s in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency.

That testing, Fairfax Water says, has shown to be within the EPA standards of compliance.

2004 was the last time FCPS had its own drinking water tested, Torre said. That testing included 35 schools that were serviced at the time by the City of Falls Church Water Authority and Town of Vienna (which purchased water from the City of Falls Church Water Authority).

Torre said 264 water samples were taken from water coolers and sinks in those 35 schools. One handwashing sink showed a slightly elevated lead level and it was replaced.

The Virginia Department of Health recommends, but doesn’t require, children between nine months and two years old get screened for lead exposure.

In Virginia, cases were reportable to the Health Department if blood levels in children younger than 16 were less than or equal to ten micrograms of lead per deciliter [μg/dL] of whole blood, or less than or equal to 25 micrograms of lead per deciliter in individuals older than 15.

However in February 2016, Fairfax County Health Department spokesperson John Silcox said, the surveillance case definition was updated by the Virginia Department of Health to be consistent with the Centers for Disease Control case definition.

“We now track blood levels of five micrograms per deciliter or higher regardless of age,” Silcox said in an email.

The CDC case definition for lead-elevated blood levels is available online at wwwn.cdc.gov/nndss/conditions/lead-elevated-blood-levels.