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Portland parents decry officials over lead in school water

Public schools in eco-friendly Portland, Oregon, have now joined Flint, Michigan, and other US cities in facing concerns over lead in their drinking water - and that officials have been slow to acknowledge the problem.

Meanwhile, most Portland area schools have announced their own plans to test for lead in drinking water after tests requested by parents showed high levels at two Portland public grade schools.

Portland Public Schools is now putting its 49,000 students on bottled water until it can test all 78 schools over the summer. "As extraordinary as these findings are, WW [Willamette Week] could not find anyone at PPS [Portland Public Schools] who says they knew of the testing, or the results, prior to learning of them from WW last Friday".

But since the crisis in Flint, Mich. made headlines, more and more lead-related issues have been reported, and Portland isn't alone by any stretch when it comes to lead in school water: USA Today reported this spring that lead taints drinking water in hundreds of schools and daycares across the country.

The testing was focused on 26 of PPS' buildings that had high radon levels in 2001 and received remediation. Hobbs' memo did not say if other buildings in the district would be tested. Water in 14 fixtures out of 92 exceeded the EPA maximum contaminant level for lead under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the district said. And the parents of students in Portland deserve answers-and some have already called for the resignation of Superintendent Carole Smith. But the federal government doesn't actually require most schools to test, and as NBC News has reported, few big cities have ongoing, comprehensive testing programs.

Results from tests carried out in March showed between six and eight sinks and fountains at each of the two schools were above the action level, although parents weren't notified until last week and the equipment was not immediately taken out of service. "This is not our protocol, this is not acceptable, and we're taking a number of immediate actions, she said".

Fridley conducted the tests in late March at the two elementary schools, Creston and Rose City Park, according to the Creston Parent-Teacher Association president.

Following a special school board meeting Tuesday, parent Mike Southern told board members and school officials that kids had been put at risk because of a "failure of leadership".

The EPA typically recommends a lead level below 20 parts per billion for schools.

Water fountains were only turned off once these leaked documents were emailed to school officials, according to the report.



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