Lead reducing water filters installed at Orleans Parish Public Schools

Updated: Aug. 24, 2018 at 3:45 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Orleans Parish School Board says it allocated $800,000 last October to put lead reducing filters in all of its district owned schools. We’re told they’ll be put on water fountains and at kitchen sinks or any place where water is ingested.

LSU Health researcher Adrienne Katner says that’s the best option in lieu of changing out lead service lines. As part of her research, Katner has tested the water for lead in over 400 New Orleans homes.

“In general, the water lead levels in New Orleans are low relative to places like Flint. However, there are instances where you can have very high water lead levels. Anytime there is road work being done or your lines are being shaken, if you’re having a lead service line replacement, we’ve seen very high levels of lead after that occurs,” said Katner.

The State is also working to reduce lead exposure in schools. Soon, the Louisiana Department of Health will begin lead testing in 12 schools across the state.

“There is still a lot of old infrastructure, this old infrastructure that is out there is where lead can leach out into the water systems and Flint, Michigan brought a lot of attention to lead in children’s blood as a result of corrosive water and lead fixtures in the pipes,” said State Health Officer, Jimmy Guidry, M.D.

The Orleans Parish School Board wouldn’t talk on camera with us. But, they released this statement:

“In a proactive effort to ensure the safety of drinking water in our schools, the Orleans Parish School Board will install new water filters in every district-owned school building. The first phase of installations will begin this week and we anticipate completing the installation of the remaining schools by the end of the calendar year. The OPSB remains committed to providing a safe environment for all students in public schools."

Katner says the filters are important because children are an especially vulnerable population when it comes to lead exposure.

"That’s because the brain is developing and that is the most critical time for the development of the child. They also absorb lead a lot better than adults do and so that is really a critical time to definitely stop the exposure,” said Katner.

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