FLINT, Mich. — Only four schools and care facilities in Flint had elevated levels of lead in their water during recent tests, though one school district refused to allow the testing as the Michigan city recovers from a lead-tainted water crisis.
State agencies tested water at 63 of 78 schools, day care centers and elder care facilities in the city in November and December. They found that 98.5 percent of the locations sampled were at or below the 15 parts per billion federal threshold for lead.
The tests were completed by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and the Department of Environmental Quality, The Flint Journal reported .
Flint Community Schools didn’t grant the state access to its facilities for the testing. Superintendent Bilal Tawwab said he wants the state to agree to a detailed plan for long-term lead and bacteria testing before the department can begin testing. Tawwab said discussions with the state are ongoing.
Of the sites that were tested, only New Standard Academy, St. John Vianney School, Summerfield Community School and the Michigan School for the Deaf had one location each that tested over the threshold level. But other sample locations tested well below the threshold.
Officials will conduct further investigations at those locations to help determine the proper corrective action to take, said Tiffany Brown, a Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman.
“This may include ensuring regular water use at those locations to eliminate excessive stagnation periods or it may include other remedies such as removing the unit from service if it is not actively used,” she said. “It is anticipated that follow-up sampling will be done within the next month.”
Flint stopped using Detroit’s water system and instead tapped the Flint River during an 18-month period in 2014 and 2015, as a way to save money while the city’s finances were under state control. But the river water wasn’t properly treated, which caused lead from pipes in older homes and buildings to leach into drinking water.
Some children were found to have elevated lead levels in their blood, which can cause developmental delays and other health problems. Some experts have also linked the tainted water to the deaths of 12 people who died after contracting Legionnaires’ disease, a type of pneumonia.