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Lead found at Colfax elementary in Springdale prompts bottled water use

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Thursday, March 16, 2017, 5:57 p.m.
Colfax Upper Elementary School in Springdale.
Jason Bridge | Tribune-Review
Colfax Upper Elementary School in Springdale.

Water fountains and classroom sinks were shut off at Colfax Upper Elementary School in Springdale on Thursday after high lead levels were found in one classroom sink.

They are expected to remain off until about the middle of next week.

In a letter to parents, Allegheny Valley Superintendent Patrick Graczyk said the district was notified Thursday morning of the preliminary results of lead tests conducted at all of the district's schools on March 10.

No problems were found at Acmetonia Primary School nor Springdale Junior-Senior High School, district spokeswoman Jan Zastawniak said.

According to the letter, 23 samples were taken from 12 fixtures at Colfax.

The letter stated that one of two tests on a classroom sink “recorded higher levels of lead than acceptable.”

No details were provided on the levels detected. Levels were said to be acceptable in a second sample from the same sink.

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, lead levels in drinking water should not exceed 15 parts per billion.

With classroom sinks and drinking fountains shut off, the district made bottled water available to students and staff.

“We always have bottled water in that building,” Zastawniak said. “At times, Springdale's water is brown. We don't believe the students want to drink that, so we have bottled water for them whenever they want it.”

More tests to be done

The district is having more testing done. Zastawniak said tests are scheduled for Saturday, and results are due back by Wednesday.

The fountains and classrooms sinks will remain off until the results show acceptable lead levels.

Water remains on in the school's kitchen and in bathroom sinks for hand washing, Zastawniak said.

In his letter, Graczyk said district representatives consulted with an “environmental agency” to review its actions. The agency was not identified.

Allegheny County Health Department spokeswoman Melissa Wade said she was uncertain if her department had been contacted, or if that would have been required.

“Everything we're doing right now is precautionary,” Zastawniak said. “We don't believe there are any issues. We're going the precautionary route and doing extensive testing so we can put any kind of questions to rest.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701 or at

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