Portland laboratory tests school district water for heavy metals - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland laboratory tests school district water for heavy metals

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Since high levels of lead were detected in faucets and fountains at two Portland public schools recently, Dick Reid with PIXIS Labs in north Portland said other school districts have sent in water samples to their lab.

“We’ve got samples from four to five school districts,” Reid said.

Reid said that some districts plan to test throughout the summer.

On Wednesday, Gresham-Barlow school district reports two of its schools tested for potential elevated levels of lead and will need follow-up testing. It also reports testing drinking water is a two step process which starts with testing lead accumulation in stagnant water.

The district adds, if the sample test shows potential elevated levels of lead above 15 parts per billion those fixtures are immediately shut off and get a follow up testing.

Reid said it’s difficult to visualize what the ratio is and compares it to 15 tablespoons of lead in a million-gallon swimming pool.

Though it doesn’t seem much, Reid said lead can accumulate in a person’s body.

“It goes to the bones and eventually to soft tissue,” Reid said. “But the biggest problem is if it goes to the brain.”

According to Reid, toxic levels of lead is difficult to detect without proper testing.

He said hundreds of water samples have been sent in to PIXIS Labs and treated in their machines which uses heat to separate heavy metals. Then it would use a light and high frequency system to detect the lead levels.

Reid said it will take sometime to make sure the data is all accurate since there is such a high volume of samples to test. He does add that the city of Portland water is reliable, however, the plumbing system is where problems arise.

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