After Lead Scare, It's Back To School For Sebring Students

Water fountain (Photo: Traveller_40/Flickr.com)
Water fountain (Photo: Traveller_40/Flickr.com)
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By ideastream's Brian Bull

After 3 consecutive days of school cancellations because of elevated lead levels, Ohio EPA officials say the most recent tests of water from Sebring schools and homes show a substantial decrease in lead contamination.

That means classes will resume tomorrow.

Ohio EPA Spokeswoman Heidi Griesmer says 123 water samples were taken from three Sebring schools Sunday night, and only two were found to be above federal lead limits. 

Griesmer adds 25 out of 28 homes sampled over the weekend showed lead levels below federal guidelines. However….

“It is still unacceptable to us that there are still just a few homes that are affected by this and it’s very important for us to get this fixed," says Griesmer. "And that’s why we’ve also asked the water system to provide filtration systems to home owners that have test results with lead exceedances.” 

The Ohio EPA has given $25,000 to the village to provide filtration systems.  The agency says Sebring’s water treatment plant is not the source of the lead.  Instead the chemical composition of outgoing water caused some residents’ pipes to leach the heavy metal into their water supply.

Meanwhile, Toni Viscounte, Superintendent for Sebring Schools, says she understands some families' trepidation going back to class.

“Parents can send in bottled water if they’re still nervous about the water supply system in Sebring," she says. "And you know, we have hand sanitizer, they can send in hand sanitizer, but are ready to move forward and get the kids back in school.”

Last week, seven Sebring homes were found with high lead levels. 

Ohio EPA officials say now there are just three homes with higher than acceptable lead levels in their drinking water.  Those houses are being outfitted with filtration systems. 

While the village water treatment system plant has been deemed safe, its operator has been removed from his position and is being investigated by the Ohio EPA. 

 

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