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Winter lead testing results show five Jefferson City schools with sinks above allowable limit


Results from the Jefferson City School District's winter lead testing show that five schools had water fixtures with lead levels above the state's allowable limit. 

The tests were conducted in January, according to data on the Jefferson City School District's website from the EPA Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water. Of the schools tested, Thomas Jefferson Middle School had the highest number of fixtures that came in above the reporting limit with 14 sinks throughout the building. 

Lawson Elementary had five sinks test above the allowable limit. Cedar Hill Elementary had one sink and one water fountain above the limit, while Nichols Career Center and North Elementary each had one sink above the limit. 

“Of the 415 fixtures we have tested since the spring of 2023, only 36 have tested over the reporting limit,” Jefferson City Public Schools spokesperson Ryan Burns said in a statement to ABC 17 News. “Nearly all of the fixtures that have tested over the reporting limit have been in sinks throughout the schools and have been easily remediated.”

Belair Elementary, East Elementary, Jefferson City Academic Center, Jefferson City High School – Weber Center Weight and Locker Rooms, Moreau Heights Elementary, Pioneer Trail Elementary and Thorpe Gordon STEM Academy were also tested in January and each had no fixtures above the limit. Over the summer, Callaway Hills Elementary had lead levels above the allowable limit and were eventually retested.

Areas tested included water sources used for drinking or food preparation, including drinking fountains, bottle-filling stations, sinks and ice dispensers, according to the district website.

"The district is pleased overall with the outcome of the lead testing we have conducted so far,” Burns said. “We are seeing a very low percentage of fixtures testing above the reporting limit across the district.” 

According to Burns, water sources that test above the reporting limit are immediately removed. The District then begins developing a mitigation strategy which can include replacing a sink faucet or adding a filtration system. Once a solution is in place the fixture is still not used until they get results from a follow-up test. 

Jefferson City Schools Director of Facilities Frank Underwood told ABC 17 News in July that the federal mandate is 15 parts per billion, while the state mandate is 5 parts per billion. 

In 2022, the Missouri Legislature passed the "Get the Lead out of School Drinking Water Act" which sets standards for lead concentrations in school drinking water, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services.

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the act mandates that educational institutions perform inventory, sampling, remediation and ongoing monitoring for all water outlets for potable use -- including drinking, food preparation and utensil cleaning -- within a school building. 

A national 2022 study posted on the JAMA Network -- a website published by the American Medical Association that hosts medical journals -- found that in Missouri 4.5% of children had elevated levels of lead in their blood, which surpassed the national average of 1.9%.

Article Topic Follows: Jefferson City School District

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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