Scranton School District dealing with lead in its water

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — What’s next for the Scranton School District after lead tested positive once again in several of its buildings?

The lead levels are being considered unsafe for its students and teachers to drink or use. The news broke at a district meeting on Monday from that December testing which is required by the state each year.

Students are having to use plastic cups from a top-loading water dispenser. During a meeting Monday, Scranton School District officials announced unsafe lead in its water.

“Remediation efforts have been undertaken already. What fixtures have been turned off, what fixtures have been labeled,” board president Katie Gilmartin said.

33 of its 38 water fountains and sinks tested positive in nearly 10 of its buildings. In 2016, the district tested water in all of their buildings and showed elevated levels of lead. In 2018, it became a mandate in the state that school districts must test their water for the chemical each year. The district’s test in 2018 and 2019 came back the same as 2016.

“Unfortunately there is not documentation that I have been given yet that gives any indication whether or not remediation efforts were addressed in 2016,” Gilmartin said.

“Dating back to my time at West High School between ’94 and ’98 if there are problems now within these schools there was definitely problems back then,” Kevin Manley said.

Kevin Manley’s son attends West Scranton Intermediate School. Manley is worried his son and others could be exposed to chemicals by water and air.

“It’s been an ongoing issue and it needs to be taken care of,” Manley said.

“Children under the age of six are at highest risk of experiencing effects of lead poisoning,” Dr. Erin McFadden, M.D./internal medicine faculty physician for The Wright Center for Community Health, said.

McFadden says symptoms can be abdominal cramping, constipation, and neurological. She suggests if adults or children feel these symptoms to see a doctor.

“We have screening capabilities right in the office where we can check blood levels prior to them leaving,” Dr. McFadden said.

Scranton Superintendent Melissa McTiernan says “This testing was part of our already established protocol to identify issues. With students, staff, and visitors in mind, we are working with our environmental experts to continue to ensure the safety of all who use our buildings.”

Letter from Scranton School District Superintendent

With the age of its buildings, the district is dealing with asbestos as well. John Adams Elementary School’s gymnasium has been closed because of asbestos exposure.

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