March 31, 2016
The Jackson Public School District sent out a release this morning stating that out of a round of tests performed at the area elementary schools, only a water fountain in the dining hall at Lee Elementary School showed levels of lead that "tested above the regulatory limit."
"This drinking water source was taken out of service," the press release stated.
It has been over a month since JPS Board President Beneta Burt http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2016/feb/25/jackson-schools-test-water-lead/">announced that the board would begin testing the schools in the area for lead-water contamination. The press release does not include dates of the tests, specific amounts of lead found in the water or locations where the tests were performed in the schools.
A total of 37 tests were performed between eight schools. The press release did list, however, the schools that were tested: Casey Elementary, Lee Elementary, Marshall Elementary, McLeod Elementary, Spann Elementary, Oak Forest Elementary, Timberlawn Elementary, and Woodville Heights Elementary.
"JPS is scheduling drinking water tests at all other schools in the District and will take appropriate action based on the test results," the press release states. "The District continues to offer bottled water as an option and supports the recommendations and guidelines provided by the City of Jackson and Mississippi State Health Department. We will continue to follow the City of Jackson and the Mississippi State Department of Health's recommendation."
The "regulatory limit" referred to is, assumedly, the same as the "action levels" found in the EPA requirements, which would be 0.015 milligrams per liter. This "regulatory limit" is set by the EPA as a "Maximum Contaminant Level," MCL, which they define as https://www.epa.gov/your-drinking-water/table-regulated-drinking-water-contaminants">"feasible using the best available treatment technology and taking cost into consideration." The MCL is then the "highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water," and is an "enforceable standard," that if exceeded would initiate involvement by other governmental entities such as the EPA, CDC, or the Mississippi Department of Health.
However, there is another measurement, referred to on the EPA's website as the "Maximum Contaminant Level Goal," or MCLG, that the agency defines as "non-enforcable health goals, based solely on possible health risks."
"EPA has set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at zero because lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels," the agency's https://www.epa.gov/your-drinking-water/basic-information-about-lead-drinking-water">site on lead states. "Lead is persistent, and it can bioaccumulate in the body over time."
"Young children, infants, and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to lead because the physical and behavioral effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels in children than in adults. A dose of lead that would have little effect on an adult can have a significant effect on a child. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells."
"EPA estimates that drinking water can make up 20 percent or more of a person's total exposure to lead."
So, if the difference in the amount of lead in the water that would be the "regulatory limit" is 0.015 mg/L and the amount that the EPA states is safe for consumption is zero, and the school board did not release the amounts from the tests, the question remains: How much lead was in the water tests that did not reach the "regulatory limit"?
Calls to the JPS offices were not returned by publishing time of this post, and the line for the press representative has been busy all morning.