Lead found in more than half of San Francisco's public schools

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Under state pressure to lower lead limits in our school's water, San Francisco Unified is the latest district to ensure that what our children drink is safe. While most of the schools in San Francisco meet the federal and state standards, Calpirg and the American Academy of Pediatrics say even small amounts are dangerous.

All 136 San Francisco public schools have now been tested for lead.

Calpirs, the consumer group that watches out for our health, gathered the data and mapped out each school and their lead levels. Sixty-five schools had less than one part per billion, 66 schools found they had between one and five parts per billion, 16 schools had lead levels at over five parts per billions. The map showing the test results can be seen here.

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If you go by the state and federal limits of 15 parts per billion, most schools passed, only 6 exceeded those standards. They were highlighted in red on the map.

"They were set decades ago," clarified, Laura Deehan of Calpirg who said those standards are outdated.

"The American Academy of pediatrics has recommended that we really limit lead levels to no more than one part per billion," explained Deehan.

When you take that recommendation and apply it to San Francisco schools, only 65 of the 136 have lead levels in their drinking water of less than one part per billion.

Older pipes and plumbing fixtures are to blame for the lead found in their water.

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San Francisco Unified quickly expanded its water testing, flushed all their pipes and installed filters in most schools.

The six schools with the highest levels of lead were West Portal elementary, International Study High School, New School of San Francisco, Downtown High School, Malcom X elementary and Life Learning Academic Charter on Treasure Island.

"Those have been all mitigated and we're actually ready for the test results from the PUC which will confirm that our efforts have been successful," said Nik Kaestner of the San Francisco Unified School District.

Oakland Public Schools also went through the same kind of testing and now that district has decided to adopt lower lead limits than what is required by the state and federal government.
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