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Lead found in water at two more Gresham-Barlow schools

Potentially contaminated water sources at 26 in 10 schools


The Gresham-Barlow School District has found potentially elevated levels of lead in water from four more spigots at two additional schools as part of ongoing voluntary water testing the district is undertaking at its 18 schools.

This brings the number of potentially contaminated water sources to 26 spread among 10 schools.

Schools across the Portland area are testing water for lead after a wave of public outcry when it was reported that Portland Public Schools officials found high levels of lead in water in several schools and did not inform parents or staff or shut down the water sources.

Elevated levels of lead in the body can cause neurological and learning problems, and children are especially vulnerable.

The results posted Tuesday, June 14, show three potential problem water sources out of the 26 tested at Barlow High School. Those spigots were in the main office, the baseball field and the child care building. There was one potentially contaminated water source, in the faculty room, out of the 23 tested at Gordon Russell Middle School. No problem samples were found at Hogan Cedars Elementary School, Springwater Trail High School and Center for Advanced Learning.

In East Multnomah County, Reynolds School District also is voluntarily testing the water in all of its schools and will announce results as soon as they are available. Centennial tested several months ago and found no elevated levels of lead in any building.

Gresham-Barlow said it is following guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency for testing the water. Under that protocol, testing drinking water quality is a two-step process that starts with sample testing lead accumulation in stagnant water.

If the initial test shows potentially elevated levels of lead — above 15 parts per billion — those fixtures are immediately shut off. The fixtures then undergo a follow-up test. The district said the problematic fixtures will remain shut off until they are fixed.

The district is not yet revealing the actual levels of lead in the water tested.

Other sources of water are being used until the problems are resolved.

In earlier testing, a teacher workroom room at Clear Creek Middle School showed potentially elevated lead levels. The other 38 water fixtures tested revealed no worrisome results.

Three fountains of the 24 tested at East Orient Elementary School found possibly elevated levels. The potential problems were in a kindergarten and first grade classroom and next to a grade 4/5 classroom.

At Hall Elementary School, two samples of 18 showed possible high lead levels in a storage room and the kitchen.

Highland Elementary School had two problem spigots, one in the health room and another classroom, out of the 33 tested.

The kitchen at North Gresham Elementary School was the only questionable water source out of the 33 tested.

In the first round of results, the district said none of the samples East Gresham, West Gresham or Kelly Creek elementary schools had elevated lead levels. Powell Valley Elementary School had three questionable samples, and Dexter McCarty Middle School had five.

The district is posting the results for the water testing at all schools on the district web site, gresham.k12.or.us, as they become available. Parents and staff are being notified by several methods and notifications are being translated into other languages.

Lead poisoning can cause brain damage, lower intelligence, behavior and learning problems and hyperactivity, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Except in severe cases, people rarely have noticeable symptoms. The only way to know if there is a problem is a blood test.

Despite the recent concerns over lead in water, exposure to dust from lead paint is the most common way people come in contact with lead, according to the OHA. Portland Public Schools is also under fire for not letting the public know about lead paint at schools. Lead has also been found in some children's toys or jewelry.

For information about the health effects of lead and how to check for lead in your home, visit the Multnomah County Health Department’s website: www.leadline.org. If you have questions, call the Multnomah County Lead Hotline at 503-988-4000, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..