Drinking Water Free of Lead at Pierson

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By Christine Sampson

Water testing for lead at Pierson Middle-High School has yielded what Sag Harbor School District officials are calling good news: Not a single drinking source tested above New York State regulatory limits for lead.

Eric Bramoff, the district’s supervisor of buildings and grounds, announced during the December 19 school board meeting, Pierson did have numerous non-drinking sources — including custodial sinks, science classroom faucets, and kitchen and office water sources — test high for lead.

Out of the 217 outlets tested at Pierson, 50 showed elevated levels of lead. The testing was conducted in mid-October, and a formal report is expected shortly from the Hauppauge-based environmental consulting firm JC Broderick and Associates, which Mr. Bramoff said will be shared publicly.

School superintendent Katy Graves said Tuesday the results were “a positive outcome.”

“It’s good information for us,” she said. “Where we’ve been able to find any concerns at all, we act on them and move forward.”

New York State regulations limit lead content to up to 15 parts per billion in drinking water. Ingestion of lead has been linked to serious health problems in children, including nerve damage, learning disabilities, and impaired development. JC Broderick took “first draw” samples, meaning the water had been standing for at least eight hours, as well as “flush tests,” in which running water samples were collected.

At Pierson, the faucets in earth science, biology, physics, and general science classrooms, all located on the second floor, returned first-draw lead readings ranging from 15.6 to 269 parts per billion. One high school classroom, in which English and college and career-readiness classes are taught, had a sink with a water sample showing 154 parts per billion of lead. One sink in a middle school special education classroom tested at 17 parts per billion.

A first-draw sample in a boys’ bathroom custodial sink measured 30.3 parts per billion, a community room faucet measured at 19.4 parts per billion, a faculty room faucet measured at 19.3 parts per billion, and the bathroom faucet in the principal’s office measured at 17.7 parts per billion. A bathroom faucet in the girls’ locker room office showed 18.8 parts per billion, and a hand wash sink in the kitchen showed 21.7 parts per billion.

Ms. Graves said the district is following the protocols recommended by New York State when high levels of lead show up in water tests, which includes putting “no drinking” signs up at sinks that have tested high – even at sinks that are not used for drinking water in the first place. Lead cannot be absorbed into the body through the skin.

“We are changing out the faucets and sometimes the pipeline, but we have to leave the signs up until they come back in and do the retesting,” she said. “We are actively replacing all of those, but we can’t say that those are remediated until JC Broderick comes back and tests all of those.”

Eight exterior water fixtures at Pierson also tested high for lead, ranging from 25.2 parts per billion to 265 parts per billion. In October, six faucets at Sag Harbor Elementary School needed to be replaced after testing above regulatory limits.

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