O'Fallon Progress

Water lead levels in some O’Fallon schools test above EPA levels

O’Fallon School District 90 shut off the water to two classroom “pods” at Estelle Kampmeyer Elementary School after tests showed a number of sinks and drinking fountains there contained high levels of lead.

The results from the two pods, which have four water fountains and 14 sinks, tested high for two possible reasons, including lack of use and summer construction that may have dislodged lead particulates, according to Environmental Consultants, which took the tests.

“Even though we shut off the water to the (Estelle Kampmeyer) sinks, we are going to go ahead and have them retested after preventative maintenance, but we anticipate that we will leave them shut off indefinitely as they are not necessary,” District 90 Superintendent Carrie Hruby wrote in an email.

O’Fallon District 90 is among the most recent districts in the metro-east to test its schools for lead in the wake of the water lead crisis in Flint, Mich. Belleville 201 and Shiloh 85 also tested their water, as well as O’Fallon District 203.

In addition to the elementary school, three more schools in District 90 produced four concerning preliminary results. They were Amelia Carriel Junior High School, Laverna Evans Elementary School, and Moye Elementary School. Three of the four tests showed a safe decline in lead levels upon retesting, but one kitchen sink at Moye came back at a concerning level. The sink will now be used only for handwashing, and the others will be put back into service and tested annually, Hruby wrote.

“We feel it was a proactive measure that helped us ensure quality of water in our schools,” Hruby wrote. “We will continue to test in the future as recommended by the experts at Environmental Consultants.”

Final results of all the water sources in District 90 were unavailable as of Tuesday morning. The cost of the testing package was $13,140, the district said.

We feel it was a proactive measure that helped us ensure quality of water in our schools.

O’Fallon District 90 Superintendent Carrie Hruby

Four other buildings under the district’s supervision — Fulton Junior High School, Hinchcliffe Elementary School, Marie Schaefer School, and the administrative building — “were all clear with no problems nor potential problems in any of the sinks or fountains used,” according to Environmental Consultants.

Environmental Consultants, a Collinsville-based company, collected “first draw” samples from District 90 early in the morning over Sept. 6 through Sept. 9. in order to get the “worst-case scenario,” or what water would be when the pipes are unflushed and the most amount of lead has seeped into the water.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency’s action level — or when a school must take action to correct the issue — is 20 parts per billion, Environmental Consultants “has a practice of holding a standard of abundance of caution,” identifying lead tests that were much lower than 20 ppb.

O’Fallon District 90 had checked its schools’ water years ago, but “we were interested in learning more about the water and are pleased we did as we were able to quickly address areas of concern and ensure safety for students,” Hruby wrote.

    “The board members were pleased that we took this proactive measure to test and to address any issues that arose,” Hruby wrote.

    District 90 isn’t the only school district that has tested its water.

    Shiloh School District 85, which consists of two schools, also had its water tested by Environmental Consultants, on Sept. 2. The group took 12 samples from the elementary school, all of which were far below the lead action level. The highest result was 3.7 parts per billion. Eight samples returned results of less than one part per billion.

    Shiloh 85 did not take samples from its middle school because it was built less than 10 years ago and therefore did not have any lead fixtures, according to Superintendent Dale Sauer.

    Central School District 104 has not tested its water.

    “To our knowledge, this has not been a concern or issue,” Superintendent John Bute said of the district’s two schools.

    O’Fallon District 203 tested its water in late August. Environmental Consultants took 46 tests, 26 of which were less than 1 ppb. The highest test, 5.4 ppb, was found in a hand wash station center in the kitchen area, and the highest level for a drinking fountain, at 2.7 ppb, was found in a hallway outside of Room 411.

    Casey Bischel: 618-239-2655, @CaseyBischel

    O’Fallon 90’s preliminary lead test results in parts per billion:

    School or building

    No. of tests

    Highest tests

    No. of fountains

    Highest test

    District office

    2

    Kitchen sink: <1

    1

    <1

    Amelia Carriel

    32

    Kitchen sink: 18.9

    20

    <1

    Laverna Evans

    23

    Sink in nurse’s office: 10.4

    18

    2.6

    Fulton Junior High School

    24

    Fountain: 9.0

    14

    9.0

    Hinchcliffe Elementary School

    16

    Two fountains: 5.5

    12

    5.5

    Moye Elementary School

    35

    Kitchen sink: 23.5

    Kitchen sink: 19.2

    24

    <1

    Marie Shaefer School

    17

    Kitchen sink: 8.2

    10

    <1

    Estelle Kampmeyer Elementary School

    30

    North Pod —

    Room 3 sink: 20.4

    Room 4 fountain: 85.9 (not used)

    Room 5 sink: 228.0 (storage room)

    Room 6 sink: 28.5

    Room 7 sink: 7.4

    South Pod —

    Room 9 sink: 20.2

    Room 10 sink: 14.9

    Room 11 sink: 7.4

    Room 12 sink: 119.0

    Room 13 sink: 7.1

    Room 15 sink: 5.2

    Room 16 sink: 29.4 (not used)

    12

    5.3

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