ST. LOUIS — The Special Administrative Board has unanimously approved up to $1 million to eliminate lead contamination after high levels of lead in drinking water were found in 16 St. Louis schools.

Water test results from an environmental engineering company were presented to the public at the board’s meeting Thursday, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2c2ofvV ) reports.

St. Louis Public Schools staff has already begun replacing sinks, drinking fountains and pipes.

The report says the 16 schools had water samples with lead levels at 30 parts per billion with the highest readings between 200 and 300 parts per billion. The Environmental Protection Agency requires action to be taken if lead levels in drinking water reach 15 parts per billion.

High levels of lead exposure can contribute to decreased IQ or development of learning disabilities, especially in young children.

St. Louis school officials made 10 parts per billion their action level, and turned off any water source that met or exceeded that level.

Water testing was prompted after the lead water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Samples from 797 water sources in 72 buildings were tested. The testing was completed before the school year began.

The highest reading came from drinking fountains at Beaumont High School, Fanning Middle School, Gallaudet Elementary School, Langston Middle School and Northwest High School.

Environmental Consultants LLC managing principal Jeff Faust said samples were taken from various areas, including cafeterias, kitchens, sinks throughout the buildings.

The samples were first draw samples, meaning the water had been in pipes for at least six hours prior to sampling so that the highest reading possible could be taken.

St. Louis pediatrician Dr. Sandeep Rohatgi said the results were worrisome and recommended that children who attend the affected schools should have their blood lead levels tested.

The city health department is offering the tests to students and pregnant women for free. The district will have on-site lead testing at affected schools if parents request it.

“We’re taking aggressive action,” Superintendent Kelvin Adams said. “We are working really hard to make sure that water that students drink is safe water.”


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com