Around this time last year that the Houston Independent School District announced it was partnering with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to test for lead in water sources at school campuses.
The Houston Chronicle have analyzed the initial results for 123 of those campuses, and reporter Megan Menchaca shared some of the findings during an interview on Monday.
“The results so far show a measurable amount of lead in almost all of the schools,” Menchaca said.
The TCEQ measures lead in a unit known as parts per billion (ppb), the equivalent of one drop of a contaminant in 500 barrels of water, per the Secretary of the Navy.
Experts consider readings of 15 ppb or higher especially concerning your health.
“That might not seem like a lot to the average person, but even a little bit of lead can be harmful to people,” Menchaca said.
She studied the available results, all of which were found at elementary and middle schools, and said most of the schools had measurable levels of lead in at least one water source.
Menchaca added that over 40 had at least one water source with lead levels of 15 ppb or higher.
The campuses included Brookline Elementary, which had a reading of 863.7 ppb in one of its water fountains tested back in July.
Menchaca also explained how many of these tests taking place in the summer could have led to higher results than we would have seen had they been conducted today.
“Lead can really build up when water sources are stagnant in the summer,” she said. “It’s likely less when school is in session.”
Reporters reached out to Houston ISD for comment, but officials have yet to respond.
Menchaca said the district takes immediate action on water sources that test at 15 ppb or higher. They are installing new water fountains across the district over the next few years.
They are temporarily pausing work with the TCEQ to receive quicker results from another vendor they’re working with.