Lead In Tap Water

Lead In Tap Water

The Perth Children’s Hospital lead scare has prompted the Government to institute flushing of school water systems before the recommencement of each academic year. This will serve to minimise the risk of elevated lead levels. Subsequently, for the first time, lead testing in water taps was carried out at all 11 newly constructed Perth public schools.

Of the 11 schools tested, five were confirmed with elevated levels of lead in tap water. The remaining six are awaiting results.

On the first day of term, Education Minister Sue Ellery was angry that testing of lead levels at new public schools had not been completed prior to the start of the new term. The testing had not been implemented by Education and Building Management and Works in time to generate results by the start of the school year. It was not clear when the testing would be finished.

According to ChemCentre’s Director, Peter McCafferty, the problem of elevated lead levels in the water is believed to have been caused by water remaining stagnant, or low flow, over the holiday period, particularly during summer school holidays. Department of Education Director General, Sharyn O’Neill, said initial tests conducted by the Department of Finance’s Building Management and Works found some taps in work areas, such as external hose taps and work sinks, showed slightly elevated levels of lead.

“There was no issue with the drinking fountains but we’re taking precautions where we had some concerns over other outlets,” she said.


Health officials have reassured that short term consumption of the drinking water poses no health risks. However as precautionary measure, bottled water would be supplied to all affected schools for drinking and hand washing until results are received and a clarification is issued.

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