Classroom sink at North Syracuse CSD Elementary School tests positive for lead

NORTH SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The North Syracuse Central School District sent a letter to parents, guardians and staff on Monday, Feb. 5, after a number of its elementary school’s classroom sinks tested positive for lead.

As part of the Public Health Law and the New York State Health Department (NYS DOH) required annual regulations, the Roxboro Road Elementary School tested lead levels in water from every outlet being used in January, and three classroom sinks tested positive.

The NYSDOH regulations require all public schools and boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES) to test lead levels in water from every outlet that is being used or could potentially be used for drinking or cooking.

The three Roxboro Road Elementary School classroom sinks tested at levels including 11.0 parts per billion (PPB), 9.5 PPB, and 7.7 PPB, which are all above 5 PPB, requiring the school to take action to reduce the exposure to lead as requested by NYS DOH law.

“Safe and healthy school environments can foster healthy and successful children. The “on-again, off-again” nature of water use at most schools can raise lead levels in school drinking water,” stated NSCSD. “Water that remains in pipes overnight, over a weekend, or over vacation periods stays in contact with lead pipes or lead solder and, as a result, could contain higher levels of lead. This is why schools are required to collect a sample after the water has been sitting in the plumbing system for a certain period of time.”

The samples that came up positive for lead were part of Roxboro Road Elementary School’s “first draw” sample, which is likely to show higher levels of lead than if you sampled after using the water continuously.

However, even if the first draw sample doesn’t reflect the result with continuous usage, it’s still important as it can identify outlets that could have elevated lead levels.

Roxboro Road Elementary “first draw” Samples

Roxboro Road Elementary
Samples Collected on 1/9/2024
Outlet Location Fixture Type Sample Results
Room 105 Classroom Sink 11.0 PPB
Room 125 Classroom Sink 9.5 PPB
Room 136 Classroom Sink 7.7 PPB

According to NSCSD, in these three instances, the bubbler (drinking fountain) directly next to the sinks passed, but the sink spouts did not.

Classroom teachers and students have been instructed to not use the spouts for drinking water.

“Remediation will consist of cleaning and/or replacement of aerators and then retesting. Should this not result in a passing test, faucets will be replaced and then retested,” stated NSCSD.

What is lead and why is it dangerous?

Lead — which is a metal harmful to children and adults when ingested — has been used for centuries for many purposes, resulting in widespread distribution in the environment.

It’s a known neurotoxin that can be harmful to the developing brain and nervous system of children under six years old, affecting the child’s growth, behavior, and ability to learn.

Major sources of lead exposure include lead-based paint in older housing, and lead that built up over decades in soil and dust due to historical use of lead in gasoline, paint, and manufacturing. It can also be found in several consumer products like certain types of pottery, pewter, brass fixtures, foods, plumbing materials, and cosmetics.

Since blood lead testing is the only way to determine a child’s blood lead level, NSCSD recommends parents should discuss their child’s health history with their child’s physician to determine if blood lead testing is appropriate.

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