Published: October 22, 2018

    Lead and Copper Contaminating the Water in Detroit Public Schools

    Detroit Schools Fear Heavy Metal Contamination

    Lead contamination in drinking water has been dominating the headlines for years, and now another Michigan city other than Flint is experiencing widespread confirmation of heavy metals contaminating public drinking water. To the horror of parents across Detroit elevated levels of copper and lead have been detected in dozens of public schools around the city.

    Initial voluntary water quality tests conducted at 24 public schools in Detroit in August found elevated levels of copper, lead, or both in 16 of the 24 schools. 18 schools across Detroit had previously been shut down before for heavy metal contamination. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti of the Detroit Public Schools Community District issued a statement in August to the public after the initial results were released.

    According to Vitti water quality tests had been started or scheduled at all 106 schools in the district, and as a precaution officials ordered the drinking water be shut off in all public schools in Detroit until further notice.

    “Although we have no evidence that there are elevated levels of copper or lead in our other schools where we are awaiting test results, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our students and employees I am turning off all drinking water in our schools until a deeper and broader analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions,” Vitti said in the statement.

    The Dangers of Lead and Copper

    The Environmental Protection Agency reports that copper and lead leech into public drinking water primarily through corroded plumbing fixtures and pipes rather than at the treatment plant. The EPA limit for lead is 15 parts per billion (ppb), but levels as low as 5 ppb can cause serious health concerns. The EPA limit for copper is 1.3 parts per million (ppm).

    Any level of lead in your water is toxic, and can have a severe negative impact on children. Ingesting lead can cause damage to the nervous system, learning disabilities, lead poisoning, hearing problems, and Legionnaires’ disease. Excessive exposure to copper can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and the development of kidney disease and liver damage.

    Confirmed — Lead and Copper Present in Detroit Schools

    Less than a month after the water was shut off across the school district results began to come in for the additional water testing. Of the 86 schools where water quality test results are now available 57 of them, or about two-thirds, tested positive for high levels of lead, copper, or both. 16 schools are still awaiting results, meaning the total number of affected schools is likely to rise.

    Concerned parents and families in Detroit may feel powerless, but there are steps you can take right now to send your child to school with plenty of clean and pure water for them to stay hydrated throughout the day. We recommend using any or all of the following filtration systems at home:

    An affordable option is the EZ-Connect Compact Lead & Fluoride Water Filtration System. With this conveniently sized filter installed under your kitchen sink you can rest easy with a targeted system that reduces lead and fluoride at a rate over 80%. The compact size enables you to install it without a problem in your condo or apartment. Also consider the 3-Stage Water Purifier, which has been NSF-certified to remove contaminants including bacteria, cysts, viruses, and lead at a rate of 98.8% or greater.

    Finally, for comprehensive filtration invest in our 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis Filter, which reduces contaminants like lead, copper, arsenic, chromium, fluoride, and TDS for fresher, cleaner water you can send your children to school with. Resolving the water problems in Detroit could take years — act now to protect your family.