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Results show elevated levels of lead at two Stafford-area schools

Stafford Primary School, Athey Creek Middle School both show elevated levels.


PMG PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The West Linn-Wilsonville School District's Steve Matthias takes out a classroom sink fixture at Inza R. Wood Middle School on Aug. 2.The two West Linn-Wilsonville public schools closest to Tualatin showed elevated levels of lead in their water in recent testing, the West Linn-Wilsonville School District announced.

Test results indicated elevated levels of lead in the water at three of 73 locations at Stafford Primary School and two of 111 locations at Athey Creek Middle School, the district said. Both schools are located just east of Tualatin; a section of Tualatin's Fox Hill neighborhood east of Southwest 50th Avenue falls within the schools' attendance areas.

The elevated levels of lead exceed the action level of 20 parts per billion (ppb) set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Elevated levels at Stafford included two sink faucets in the kitchen and one sink faucet in a classroom, with tests indicating levels of 52.7 ppb, 43.3 ppb and 20.3 ppb. Elevated levels at Athey Creek were at a lab sink in a classroom and a sink faucet in a restroom, with levels of 25.5 ppb and 21 ppb, respectively.

The West Linn-Wilsonville School District made the decision in June to test water for all its schools, starting with its oldest buildings and working with Pixis Labs in Portland.

Superintendent Kathy Ludwig told the Wilsonville Spokesman, The Times' sister paper, that the district will ensure drinking water is safe for students before school starts in September, and that the district is in the process of fixing problem areas.

Lead in water a regional concern, controversy

The Tigard-Tualatin School District, which covers most of Tigard and Tualatin and all of Durham and King City, has been conducting annual lead testing since 2013. District spokeswoman Susan Stark Haydon said in June that the most recent round of testing, conducted last October, had turned up no elevated levels of lead in district schools and facilities.

Unlike its Tigard-Tualatin counterpart, the West Linn-Wilsonville School District hasn’t tested its drinking water on-site in buildings in the past — save for its three wells which are routinely tested. Instead, the district has relied on regular testing by the cities of West Linn and Wilsonville of their own systems. Water sources at individual schools have not previously been tested by either city, however.

The district has taken immediate action at each school that indicated elevated levels of lead by turning water off at each location, replacing the fixtures in question and then retesting the problem areas. The EPA mandates that samples come from first draw tests, meaning the initial water from a faucet is tested instead of letting water run for any period of time prior to gathering the sample.

Ludwig said the district will retest at every problem location until it can be sure there are no issues with elevated levels of lead. Operations Director Tim Woodley said in an email to parents that results from the remaining schools in the district should be received from Pixis Labs sometime mid-August.

According to the EPA, even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anemia.

Controversy over high lead levels in the drinking water at several Portland Public Schools campuses and that school district's response this spring led to the resignation of Superintendent Carole Smith last month and calls for regular lead testing in other Portland-area school districts.

Other test results in West Linn-Wilsonville

Elsewhere in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, one of 108 locations at Lowrie Primary School in Wilsonville also tested at a high lead level in its water, a kitchen sink with a result of 32.9 ppb. Boones Ferry Primary School, which was also tested, had no elevated results, according to the district.

The district announced elevated levels of lead in the water at Sunset (four locations) and Willamette (two locations) elementary schools in early July, but has already replaced fixtures and retested at those locations.

The district is also working on replacing fixtures and retesting at Inza R. Wood Middle School (which showed elevated levels at 13 locations), Arts & Technology High School (two locations), Rosemont Ridge Middle School (three locations) and Cedaroak Park Primary School (three locations).

Results at Bolton and Boeckman Creek primary schools indicated zero locations with elevated levels of lead in their water. The district is still waiting on results for Trillium Creek Primary, West Linn High and Wilsonville High schools.

Mark Miller contributed to this report.