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Elevated lead levels found at Birney Elementary

SAN DIEGO – Parents of students who attend Birney Elementary School were notified Wednesday that elevated levels of lead have been discovered at the school.

A sample taken from a cafeteria drinking fountain on May 2 showed lead levels that measured 19 parts per billion, according to a report from San Diego Public Utilities.

Schools are required to take action if samples find contaminants over 15 parts per billion. One part per billion is equivalent to about one drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

"If results indicate there is lead above allowable levels, district staff will determine the source of contamination and take appropriate action on a case-by-case basis," school officials stated on their website.

Two additional fountains at Birney Elementary, located between boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, also had elevated levels of lead but didn’t reach a level requiring action by the district.

Testing began at San Diego Unified Schools on April 4, a couple months after elevated levels of lead, copper and bacteria were discovered at three campuses in the San Ysidro School District.

Health effects of being exposed to lead in drinking water

"Five campuses are tested daily, Tuesday through Saturday, a maximum of five samples per school site," SDUSD Chief Operations Officer Drew Rowlands said.

"The protocol or the sampling requires that the testing is done first thing in the morning so the water has sat in the pipe in the line overnight."

Birney Elementary is the first school to find elevated lead levels since testing began in April. The school is providing bottled water for students and staff. All campus testing is expected to be completed by mid-June.

Read the letter sent to parents