The Town of Amherst and the Amherst Public Schools opted to participate in a voluntary program organized by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to test for lead and copper in schools due to the health impacts these metals can have on children and staff members. We took this proactive step (along with 179 of the 351 towns in the Commonwealth) because we believed it was in the best interest of our students and staff to ensure the health and safety of all in our community.
The guidance we received was that for valid testing to occur, schools needed to be occupied and in regular use. Crocker Farm was the only school tested over the summer due to the high number of summer programs hosted at that site. All other schools in the district, including Pelham, are scheduled to be tested once school begins. Results from the other schools will be shared once we receive them back from the state. Crocker Farm was the first school in Massachusetts to be tested as part of this program; about 900 others will be tested in the next few months.
During testing that occurred at Crocker Farm School on August 3, 118 samples were taken from 74 faucets and sinks. We were notified yesterday afternoon that out of those 118 tests, four sinks and one faucet tested for lead at levels above the state and federally defined relevant action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) on “first draw” samples. None of the “flush samples” (testing completed after running the water for 30 seconds) of any sinks or faucets tested at or above the action level for lead. None of the samples tested above the action level for copper on initial or flush samples. Lead is not believed to be in the primary water source at Crocker Farm given the aggregate results of the 118 tests and the fact that the positive tests were from first morning samples and all the flush samples later in the day were low, which indicates good piping and good source water.
Given this information, we have developed plans to reduce the exposure to lead at Crocker Farm School and to ensure the health and safety of all students, staff, families, and visitors. The five water outlets that tested above the action level for lead, affecting four classrooms in the school (Rooms 24, 26, 202, and 30), have been removed from service. Town and School staff are investigating the cause of the lead and are working to resolve the issue.
We are developing plans for the four classrooms at Crocker Farm to ensure that students and staff who have temporarily lost access to their sinks and faucets have alternate arrangements for both hand-washing and drinking water when school starts on Wednesday. We will continue to share information as the source of the problem is investigated and further testing is completed until the issue is resolved.
While there is no evidence of water issues at the other schools in the district, we will be implementing daily flushing procedures as a precautionary measure until the testing from those schools comes back.
An upcoming informational session on this topic will be held on Wednesday, August 31 at Crocker Farm at 7:00 in the evening. To find out more information, please see the FAQ document produced by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
If you have any questions about this information, please contact us.
Dr. Michael Morris
Acting Superintendent firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie FedermanDirector of Health & Community Services
Principal, Crocker Farm email@example.com