Elevated lead levels in water found at more than two dozen Midstate locations

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – More than two dozen places in the Midstate have had elevated lead levels since 2012.

Brecknock Elementary School in Lancaster County was one of those places. Eastern Lancaster County School District Superintendent Dr. Robert Hollister says a sink in the nurse’s suite had a high level of lead during renovations in 2014 and that problem has been fixed.

“We supplied drinking water to our kids in bottles every day the whole renovation,” Hollister said. “As soon as we started the renovations and started breaking up pipes and fixtures, we started supplying the kids with water and turned the water fountains off.”

The District hired an independent certified operator who reported the findings to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

“It’s an important issue that folks are really going to have to pay attention to, particularly with older buildings,” Hollister said.

Hollister said the lead levels were normal during the follow-up test. The operator tests the water monthly.

The DEP says no level of lead in water is safe, and anything above 15 parts per billion is when action must be taken. The North Annville Elementary School building had tests in the range of 46.5 to 257.5 parts per billion. It’s a part of the Annville-Cleona School District. Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Miller sent abc27 the following statement:

“A portion of the North Annville Elementary School has been leased to the Yellow Breeches Program for some time. The building has been closed for a number of years and is no longer used to house Annville-Cleona School District students. The well water (there is no public water at the site) contains lead and has been replaced by bottled water. Water from the well is not used for drinking purposes. The district is currently in the process of permit application with the Department of Environmental Protection to provide a system to remove 100% of the lead from the water.”

Harrisburg International Airport had high lead levels in one building in 2013. Spokesperson Scott Miller said this was not in any terminals.

“In an older building we don’t use very often, elevated levels of lead were found. As per regulations, we put notices on the buildings, and we are in the process of getting ready to test everything again in the next couple of months in cooperation with DEP,” Miller said.

The DEP says water coming from a distribution center is usually fine, but the high lead levels can be due to something that happens in a home or building, such as pipes or using a water softener. Press Secretary Neil Shader sent abc27 the following statement:

“DEP protocol when a lead exceedance is observed in any facility, like a school, daycare center, small business, nursing home, etc., is to immediately work with the facility to a) notify the public and b) find a solution. There is no one-size-fits all solution to lead exceedances, but DEP’s priority is to return the system to acceptable levels as quickly as possible.

DEP and the EPA strongly encourage schools and day care facilities to test the water for lead, particularly if food, drinks, and/or formula are prepared on-site. Each outlet should be tested separately for lead. Even though water delivered from the community’s public water supply must meet EPA standards for lead, a building may still have too much lead in the drinking water because of lead and lead-containing plumbing materials and water use patterns. More information is available at the EPA’s website.

Residents concerned about lead in their homes should contact their water utility to have their water tested. Private well users can contact a DEP-accredited lab for more information about testing their water.

Public water systems test regularly for lead, and DEP monitors those results to that they are complying with testing requirements to safeguard our public drinking water supplies.

For more information, please visit here.”

25 locations throughout the Midstate had water lead levels above 15 ppb. You can see these locations on the map of USA Today’s article by clicking here. More information on each location can be found on the EPA’s database here.


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