High levels of lead found in Cumberland County elementary school water

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cumberland County parents who have children who attend Loyd Auman Elementary School have been notified of the potential exposure of lead in the school's water.

According to a Cumberland County Schools' press release, the Cumberland County Department of Public Health Environmental Health Division notified them of the lead levels being higher than the state standard.

A county health spokesperson said the discovery was made in two school kitchen sink taps. The lead level stood at 29 parts per billion, nearly double the state standard of 15 ppb.

Maggie Nichols, a Fayetteville mother who has two kids who attend the school, says she was more worried about COVID-19 when they returned to in-person learning in the spring.

"I mean, I sent them back on edge, but now, I guess it's just adding more," Nichols said.

County health officials say the faucet drinking water and bathroom sink water is safe.

For Cassandra Pittman, this is the second time she's dealt with a school testing for a high lead count in its water. She moved to Fayetteville with her daughter, Jocelyn, last year.

"It happened to me in Jersey as well, because that's where I'm from. And I had to get tested before she came out here to Fayetteville, so this is like the second time," Pittman said.

CCS urges parents, who had students that attended in-person classes in the last six months, to take their children to the Cumberland County Department of Public Health for a free blood test.

Health officials main concern is students under the age of six; this age group is more susceptible to the affects of lead exposure which can hurt a child's growth and development.

Right now, CCS says there are 45 students who fall under this age bracket at the elementary school. This list includes Pittman's daughter.

"Hopefully, due to them not really drinking out of water fountains and not really doing to much with water, I hope it's not really a concern," Pittman said.

The county health department says free walk-ins for blood tests are available those elementary students Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The building is located at 1235 Ramsey Street.

"We want parents and guardians to know they have access to the tools necessary to ensure their child's safety and well being," said Jennifer Green, Cumberland County Health Director. Green says you can also go to your personal provider for the test.

Any parents with questions or concerns can call 910-433-3689.

Health officials are still investigating the cause of the high lead levels in those two sink taps.
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