Quick action eased worry about lead at EL school

Posted: 8:17 AM, Jan 26, 2016
Updated: 2016-01-26 08:17:19-05

Sarah Preisser has a 2nd and 4th grader at Glencairn Elementary School, where earlier in January a test found a sink was releasing water with lead levels twice the EPA's acceptable levels.

"Obviously you're nervous because your kids are using that water to wash their hands," Preisser said. "They're drinking it and with everything that's happening in Flint, I think we all have a heightened sensitivity to those risks, so it's obviously a concern." She says her fears dissipated when she saw how the school handled the situation.

"Once they got the results, they contacted all the parents, so they did handle it pretty quickly," Preisser said.

"I actually didn't think the lead was a huge issue, especially because it was one sink, and it seemed like they had taken immediate action once someone had pointed it out to them," Sarah Comstock, the parent of 2nd grader at Glencairn, said.

The sink had a sticker on it telling people to flush the pipe several times a day to keep lead levels low. Linda Vail of the Ingham County Health Department says that's standard procedure for older pipes, and anyone with older pipes in their home can let the water run for two minutes before drinking it to make sure the lead levels are low.

To remedy the situation at Glencairn, the school immediately stopped using the sink, has begun replacing the pipes that caused the elevated lead levels, and tested the water throughout the building.

"The actions that are being taken are appropriate. They are quick," Vail said. "The most common source of lead poisoning in children is lead dust. The most common place that children are exposed to lead dust is in their own homes." Vail says parents should be cognizant of how the home environment can contain lead. And anyone concerned about lead should have their child tested by a doctor.

"We advise that anyway especially if you're living in an older housing stock or any of that sort of stuff," Vail said. "We'd like to see all children tested for lead by the age of six."