City schools to continue testing for lead

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Unified School District is scheduled to announce Thursday a three-year program to continue testing for lead in campus water systems.

The announcement comes after the district and city of San Diego water officials spent months testing water quality at schools, following the discovery of elevated lead levels at sites in San Diego and San Ysidro. Under a policy enacted by the Board of Education in July, the district has also adopted strict standards for lead levels.

Problems were fixed in the water systems at Birney Elementary School in University Heights, the French language immersion school La Petite Ecole in Clairemont, and  Emerson-Bandini Elementary School and San Diego Cooperative Charter, which share a campus in Southcrest.

Under the new testing program, all water outlets used for human consumption at district facilities will be checked over the next three years, according to the SDUSD. This sampling project will include early childhood education facilities and central offices, which were excluded from testing earlier this year.

Minute amounts of lead are typically found in water and it’s only a health hazard at unusually high levels. The state and federal standards are 15 parts per billion. The school board, however, set 5 parts per billion as the level that will require remediation work.

District officials said sites that met the higher standard during this year’s testing but would have been above the new level will get first priority.

The new district policy was developed in partnership with the California Public Interest Research Group, commonly known as CalPIRG.

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