WSU finds elevated lead levels in 2 campus buildings
Detroit — Wayne State University has shut down drinking fountains in two campus buildings after elevated levels of lead were found, officials said Friday.
The university’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety, in February, began testing drinking water for lead levels in various campus buildings based on requests, WSU spokesman Matt Lockwood said.
Of 11 tested so far, Lockwood said lead levels at five water fountains in the College of Education Building and Myer Prentiss/KCI Building were above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s action levels.
While no level of lead is considered safe, EPA rules call for lead levels to fall below 15 parts per billion. Lockwood said the highest reading in one of the fountains was 30 parts per billion. The other four were below that level but higher than 15 parts per billion.
Wayne State University Vice President and Chief of Staff Michael Wright in a statement on the university’s website called the incidents “isolated,” but he said officials are making plans to test the drinking water in all remaining buildings on campus in response to the findings of the initial 11 buildings. Wayne State has more than 100 buildings on campus.
“The affected fountains have been covered and are being shut off until this problem is fixed,” Wright said. “All other drinking sites in these two buildings, and all other sites on campus that have been tested to date, have tested normal.”
The university, he added, is offering free blood testing at the Campus Health Center, 5200 Anthony Wayne Drive, to those in the affected buildings.
Wayne State is among several schools and universities that have begun testing water in the wake of lead contamination in Flint’s water after the city switched its supply to the Flint River for 18 months beginning in April 2014.
Last month, elevated lead and copper levels were found in six classroom buildings in Grosse Pointe Public Schools. The revelation came just days after officials with Detroit Public Schools reported that elevated levels of lead or copper were found in tap water at 19 of 62 schools tested.
The tests in DPS showed 15 schools had tested positive for high lead levels and eight had excessive copper levels.
The University of Michigan-Flint also found elevated lead levels in a few areas. Officials have since installed filters across campus and conducted regular testing that’s shown nondetectable levels of lead.
Often times, lead can build up at the aerators of faucets or where there is stagnant water.
Lead and copper exposure can lead to health problems ranging from stomach pain to brain damage, according to the EPA.
The federal Lead and Copper Rule that governs drinking water does not require schools to test their tap water. Gov. Rick Snyder ordered testing of Flint schools in October after learning the results of blood tests that showed a spike in blood lead levels in the city’s children.
To stay updated on the testing, visit wayne.edu/campus-water.