Home Health Schools are struggling with lead in water while they wait for federal...

Schools are struggling with lead in water while they wait for federal relief


PHILIPSBURG, Mont. — On a recent day in this 19th-century mining town turned tourist hot spot, students made their way into the Granite High School lobby and past a new filtered water bottle fill station.

Water samples taken from the drinking fountain the station replaced had a lead concentration of 10 parts per billion — twice Montana’s legal limit for schools of 5 parts per billion for the toxic metal.

Thomas Gates is the superintendent and principal of the small Philipsburg Schools District. He worries that the faucets, filters, and sinks the district has installed for approximately 30 water sources may be temporary. Built in 1912, the high school is likely to be clogged with old pipes and other infrastructure.

“If we change faucets or whatever, lead is still getting pushed in,” Gates said.

After state officials required schools to test for lead, the school in Philipsburg is just one of many in Montana trying to get rid of it. 74% of the samples submitted by schools found at most one tap or fountain high in lead. Many of these schools are still trying find money and tracing the source of the problem.

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