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TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Test results so far of 80 Portland Public Schools buildings show all have elevated levels of lead or copper in at least some fixtures. The results are in for summer district-wide testing on 80 of Portland Public Schools' buildings and no building’s water has been safe from heavy metals.


The district says it is still waiting for results from about 20 more buildings, but so far every one of the district's schools has water with levels of lead or copper that exceed federal guidelines.

Bizarrely, even Rosa Parks School, a school built in 2006, had 11 fixtures with lead above the 15 parts per billion limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency for water systems. Four of those fixtures also had elevated copper levels.

Typically, plumbing installed after a 1986 ban on lead pipe and solder does not contain elevated levels.

A spigot in a second-floor girls bathroom at Beach Elementary registered a shocking 2,680 parts per billion lead level, according to the tests performed by the Portland Water Bureau and reviewed by TRC Environmental Corp. Copper in that spigot was also extremely high at 9 parts per million. Federal standards for copper are less than 1.3 ppm.

The high lead levels in Portland's schools have reached national audiences as NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt reported on them Sunday evening.

Lead is particularly dangerous for children under the age of 6. Clarendon Early Learning Academy, which serves preschool-aged kids and younger had 22 fixtures with elevated levels of lead. However, like many of the other schools, these were primarily in janitorial and restroom sinks or outdoor spigots.

PPS officials have said they have a little-known policy against using sinks for drinking water.

The school district also announced last week that 21 students and staff members have discovered elevated levels of lead in their blood. The district has offered free home test kits and three blood screening clinics, two in June and one last weekend. The results for the last two clinics were not available by press time.

The school board has contracted with CH2M, an engineering company, to provide the blueprint of a plan to improve the water’s safety.

PPS has already planned to provide water dispensers and deliveries of bottled water to ensure access to safe drinking water in every school by the time the regular school year starts Aug. 29.

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