UPDATE: Water at 24 Shelby County schools tests positive for lead

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Schools reported that specific water fountains in some of the district’s school tested positive for lead.

Of 165 schools tested as part of a state requirement, 24 schools had specific water fountains, sinks or coolers that tested positive for lead levels above the EPA threshold.

SCS said most of the fountains that tested above the threshold were not frequently used.

A district spokesperson said all affected fountains were shut off and immediately removed from use as part of a precautionary process. Other fountains in the buildings were not affected by the lead levels in these specific fountains.

Parents at the schools were the affected water fountains were found have been notified.

The district said it is taking steps to remove the fountains.

Test results show water fountains and in some cases coolers and sinks at some schools registered from 21 parts per billion of lead — just above the legal limit — to a high of 149 ppb at a water fountain at Gardenview Elementary near the airport.

Anthony Krone, risk manager for Shelby County Schools, said about 3,500 samples were taken. Additional results came in late Wednesday night.

Krone said some some of the lead buildup could be because those fountains weren’t regularly used.

The district also did lead testing in 2017 and found high levels of lead in some fountains, Krone said. SCS will begin testing for lead every two years.

“We’re doing what the state and the EPA requires us to do,” as far as testing, notification and taking the fountains out of service, Krone said.

SCS says all active water sources at the schools are safe for drinking.

Below are the schools that had at least one water fountain test above the EPA threshold.

  • Booker T. Washington High School
  • Berclair Elementary
  • Central High School
  • Charjean Elementary School
  • Chickasaw Middle School
  • Double Tree Elementary School
  • Douglass (pre-k)
  • Douglass Elementary/Middle
  • Egypt Elementary
  • Gardenview Elementary School
  • Havenview Middle School
  • Idlewild Elementary
  • Keystone Elementary
  • Kingsbury Elementary
  • Kingsbury Vocational
  • Raleigh Egypt High School
  • Ridgeway Middle
  • Sheffield High School
  • South Park Elementary
  • Treadwell Middle
  • Westside Elementary
  • Whitehaven Elementary School
  • Whitehaven High School
  • Wooddale High School

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