Two facilities employees with the Boston school district have been placed on administrative leave as officials investigate why fountains in some schools were mistakenly turned on before testing of water for lead was complete.
The Boston Globe reports that the city's Water and Sewer Commission has been brought in to assist the school system as it deals with the disclosure that high lead levels were found in water at several schools.
The two employees placed on leave were not identified.
Lead in schools is a serious concern because children are particularly vulnerable to lead contamination. Exposure has been linked to IQ deficits, shortened attention spans, behavioral problems, hearing damage, stunted growth, and lowered birth weight.
In Boston, most schools use bottled water because of lead concerns that stem from aging plumbing. Last year, as part of an effort to reduce the district’s use of bottled water, Boston launched a program to restore fountains in several schools. But the project stalled after testing found high lead levels in some of the new fountains.
None of the fountains were supposed to be turned on, but school district officials disclosed this week that some fountains had been turned on. Officials blamed the mistake on a lack of communication between school district employees and a third-party contractor.
The latest round of testing revealed high lead levels in another four schools, bringing the total to eight: Boston Latin Academy, Murphy K-8 School, Kenny Elementary School, Hernandez K-8 School, Mather Elementary School, Lee K-8 School, Curley K-8 School, and Another Course to College.
The affected fountains have been shut off and replaced with bottled water, officials say.
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