Letter: Detroit's Bow Elementary water tests positive for lead

Concerns are growing in Detroit after at least one school has tested positive for lead in the water.

- Across Michigan and the country, schools have started testing water for lead and copper. At least one school in Detroit is now alerting parents about those tests and says they have had a least one test positive for lead, according to a letter obtained by FOX 2.

Kenneth Jenkins, principal of Warren E. Bow Elementary/Middle School sent the attached letter to parents, telling them about the school's testing for copper and lead. According to the letter, testing started late last month - when students were on spring break.

Brittany Hunt supplied the letter to FOX 2 that she says she received from the school. The letter states that ATC Group, a licensed consulting firm, collected water from a sink in the kitchen and two fountains in the school. One of those samples indicated lead level about the EPA threshold.

Hunt is angry that the school her children attend tested positive for high levels of lead.

"It's high enough to shut the water off so that's pretty bad," Hunt said. "my children are still small so they're brains are still developing and they need to function properly. I'm scared."

As a result of the positive test, ATC Group must test all fountains and analyze the sample that tested positive.

Until the tests are complete, all drinking fountains have been switched off and the district is providing bottled water to students and staff.  The drinking fountains were covered with plastic to prevent the kids from drinking from them.

Not every parent got the letter Hunt received. Luann Harris was informed of the lead problem by FOX 2's Erika Erickson.

"No I didn't receive this," Harris said. "I'm scared I'm worried about it. My kids have been for the last year."

Hunt said she brought her own water and that she did not see any bottled water in the school when she was there.

The testing was conducted on 60 elementary-middle schools with middle and high schools to be completed this month. According to a press release from the district last Monday, only two came back with elevated copper and lead levels. Those schools were listed as Burton International Academy and Beard Elementary.

DPS officials said this Monday that of 45 schools tested, 12 have elevated levels of lead of copper.

"I think they should shut the school down. Temporarily or fix the pipes, or do something!" Hunt said.

President Jenkins would not speak about the issue on camera.

"You see how he ran off like that?" Hunt said. "If you were a principal and you care about your school and your faculty, you would stand out here and fight for your school."

DPS spokesperson Michelle Zdrodowski said that they understand the concerns and that testing is not required by the schools.

"We understand that parents are concerned but we did this as a precautionary measure." Zdrodowski said. "Parents shouldn't be worried about students washing their hands in the bathroom. Lead is harmful when it's ingested over a long period of time."

Zdrodowski said another round of test results are expected this week.

"As soon as we understand what those results are and where that's going to guide us we will immediately implement those measures that we have to," she said.

Hunt and Harris both say they're taking their children to get tested for lead.


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