Eastern Howard School Corporation finds unsafe levels of lead in school water

HOWARD COUNTY, Ind. – A central-Indiana school district is on high alert after unsafe levels of lead were discovered in its water.

As we’ve seen in places like Flint, Michigan, it’s a dangerous situation leading to a lot of questions and concerns.

The high level of lead was detected in one classroom, from one faucet, at Eastern High School in Eastern Howard School Corporation.

That was the last week of January. Since then, that water was shut off and more tests were run.

This week, the update was startling. No one can confirm for sure where that lead is coming from.

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One parent – who has five kids in this school district – says there is a lot at stake.

“It scares me, because of the developmental issues that lead causes in children,” Eric Shupperd said. “When your kid’s in school, you’re trusting (the school) to serve them food and water that’s healthy.”

Superintendent Dr. Tracy Caddell says it could be from one school pipe feeding into that classroom, but it could also be from somewhere else.

“Or it could be at the point of origin,” Dr. Caddell said. “The town of Greentown actually has lead in their water.”

Dr. Caddell says a number of Greentown homes got notice last fall that there was lead in the water. That’s actually what sparked the district to voluntarily test its water.

The town says the lead is from old pipes, but Dr. Caddell says it’s old pipes being affected by the town’s corrosive water.

Regardless of the cause, the concern right now is possible alternate sources of water could be affected.

“We just know know, and it’s all about the kids’ safety,” Dr. Caddell said. “We have to make sure these kids are absolutely protected.”

In a letter sent out to parents, the district spelled out a number of precautions involving the water in every school.

The Howard County Health Department said Friday it is now safe for students to wash their hands – they won’t be exposed to lead that way. But because they still don’t know where the lead is coming from, for the time being, every water fountain in the district is blocked from use.

For now, they’re being given bottled water, and on the bright side…

“Our kids are more hydrated than they’ve ever been, because they love getting a free bottle of water,” Dr. Caddell said.

This process will last at least a couple more weeks, as the district studies each and every pipe in every building and the Howard County Health Department works with it to discover the source of the lead.

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