Education

Sacramento State is fixing 43 drinking fountains and water sources with high lead

Sacramento State students react to on-campus lead contamination

Sacramento State officials have shut off water to sinks and water faucets in six buildings at the school after elevated levels of lead were found during testing.
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Sacramento State officials have shut off water to sinks and water faucets in six buildings at the school after elevated levels of lead were found during testing.

Sacramento State consultants have identified 43 water fountains, bottle filling stations and sinks that must be repaired or replaced due to high lead levels, according to new reports released Monday.

The university initially shut down 85 sinks and fountains with lead levels above 5 parts per billion on Jan. 13. That came after students and professors found high lead levels when they tested 449 sinks and fountains over three days in January as part of a research project.

After talking to state regulators and consultants, the university decided to close only water stations with levels over the state recommendation of 15 parts per billion, according to Elisa Smith, university spokeswoman. The school on Monday began reopening some of the sinks with lead between 5 and 15 parts per billion.

“We were trying to be as careful as we could until we learned more,” Smith said of the January closures.

Tests commissioned by the university and University Enterprises since January show 43 water sources had lead levels above state recommendations of 15 parts per billion.

They were closed immediately and will remain closed until they are repaired or removed, Smith said.

No water source used for dining-related services tested over 15 parts per billion, said Mike Lee, vice president of administration. He cautioned that bathroom sinks and showers were not tested and advised students not to drink from them.

Lead generally leaches into the water supply from pipes and fixtures and can be especially high after a long period of stagnation, such as when students go on break.

While elevated lead levels are generally not harmful to adults, they pose a risk to fetuses, infants and children up to age 6. Health effects include damage to the brain and kidneys.

California State University officials are discussing the possibility of doing regular lead testing, although nothing has been decided, said Steve Leland, California State University, Sacramento, director of environmental health and safety. State legislators are also considering a proposal that would require school districts, community colleges and CSU campuses to test water at schools built before 1993 and every three years if built after that date.

Sacramento State will host an open forum to discuss lead in campus water at 3 p.m. May 15 at 1003 Mendocino Hall. Olivia Kasirye, public health officer for Sacramento County, will be on hand.

Diana Lambert: 916-321-1090, @dianalambert

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