State releases lead testing results for school districts surrounding Shelby County

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — After lead levels from water sources in Shelby County Schools were released, WREG found that lead in water of school districts surrounding Shelby County may have lead issues of their own.

Some schools said they were already testing water before a law was passed last year requiring schools to test for lead at drinking water sources.

Lead at water sources can be an unnerving topic, but it's also an education moment.

"We don't want parents to be overly alarmed," Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said. "We know historically that lead poisoning negatively impacts children, so there truly is not a safe level of lead. There is what is considered acceptable by EPA standards and State of Tennessee law."

Those standards are 15 parts per billion of lead detection, and if results after testing are equal to or more than 20 parts per billion, the drinking water source must be removed from service.

WREG asked the state for results from counties surrounding Shelby and received Collierville, Dyer County, Germantown, Hardeman County, Millington and Tipton County.

Samples were tested from sinks, showers, drinking fountains and ice machines. Results from Germantown, Collierville and Millington showed some elevated lead levels at some water sources, but no drinking sources.

Dyer, Hardeman and Tipton Counties had schools with elevated levels at water fountains and ice machines.

One Hardeman County school had a spot with one of the highest levels in the area. The interim superintendent of Hardeman County Schools said all devices with detections were immediately pulled, and they plan to have them replaced.

The water sources with high lead levels were typically at are rarely used or older sources.

As part of the state requirement, if a finding is above 15 parts per billion, testing must be done yearly until the level is under 15.

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