District Government Adopts New Lead Testing Policy

Deputy City Administrator Kevin Donahue announced that the Department of General Services will move to incorporate a 1 PPB (part-per-billion) action level for lead tests on drinking water sources in District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) centers. The effort comes on the heels of last week’s report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Prevention of Childhood Lead Toxicity, that lead testing resulting in a reading of more than 1 PPB should be immediately remediated.

“Lead exposure in children is preventable, and we will be working diligently to set policy at our facilities that goes far beyond EPA standards,” said Kevin Donahue, Deputy City Administrator. “By investing the time, training, and resources to follow the new recommendations outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics, we will ensure that the District continues to do everything it can to protect our children, and limit students’ exposure to lead.”

Under the current operating policy, drinking water sources in District public schools and recreation centers testing at or above 15 PPB are fitted with a filter or taken out of operation. The sources are returned to operation once follow-up testing yields a clean reading. Following recent findings of lead in water at a small number of schools, District officials completed testing of all water sources at every single District of Columbia Public School and recreation center, per the direction of Mayor Muriel Bowser. This newly implemented policy will bring a more rigorous approach to the testing.

The new policy is estimated to cost the District nearly $2 million at the onset, which includes the installation of filters on all drinking water sources at public schools, public libraries, and recreation centers. Implementation is expected to be completed this calendar year. The District will also work with District of Columbia Public Charter Schools and District of Columbia Public Libraries to install filters on drinking water sources. The expected annual cost of $1.5 million will support regular testing, maintenance, and supplies for District of Columbia Public Schools and recreation centers.

This policy is slated to be included in Deputy City Administrator Donahue’s testimony before the Council of the District of Columbia’s Committees on Education and Transportation and the Environment on Wednesday, June 22. For more information on lead testing and exposure in the District visit mayor.dc.gov/lead.