Maui News

Drinking Water to be Tested for Lead at Selected Schools and Childcare Facilities

January 29, 2021, 12:52 PM HST
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To ensure the water at Hawai‘i public schools and child care facilities is safe to drink, the state will launch a joint project to test tap water at selected schools and child care facilities for the presence of lead.

The project, under the direction of the Hawai‘i State Department of Education, Department of Health, and Department of Human Services, begins in February 2021 and will continue through the end of the year.

The project is part of a nationwide program established under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2017 to test drinking water for lead in schools and child care centers.

The Hawai‘i project is being paid for by a $222,000 grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The State of Hawai‘i’s contribution to the project is an additional $696,000 from the technical assistance set-aside portion of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

“Hawai‘i has been fortunate in that we have not experienced the same types of challenges with lead contamination as we have seen in the continental United States, so it’s important to note this project is a precautionary measure,” said State Toxicologist Dr. Diana Felton. “Historically, public water systems in Hawai‘i have not had lead contamination. However, it is possible for lead to contaminate drinking water through fixtures and piping within a school or child care facility, particularly in older buildings, so we want to make sure keiki are safe.”

Lead exposure can harm the brain and nervous system. Long-term childhood lead exposure can result in problems with learning, school performance, attention, and behavior as well as anemia and other health problems.

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“Our investigations will determine if we need to take any immediate action,” Dr. Felton added, noting that the samples will be tested by the health department’s State Laboratories Division.

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“If any of the samples result in the presence of lead above action levels, the water at those schools will be shut off within 24 hours or the next school day and will no longer be available for use. Follow-up testing will be conducted, and plans will be developed to address the cause of the lead contamination.”

The results of a school or child care facility’s water sampling will be sent to each facility or school to post in their administrative office. The results will also be posted on the WIIN project website at http://health.hawaii.gov/wiin.

Schools and child care facilities were selected for the tests based on the age of the buildings, the children who are served at the schools, whether they have had their drinking water tested in the past, and other factors.

Participating schools in Maui County include: Haʻikū Elementary, Kahului Elementary, Kīhei Elementary, Lihikai Elementary, Makawao Elementary, Pāʻia Elementary, Waiheʻe Elementary, Wailuku Elementary, Pukalani Elementary, Hāna High and Elementary, Kaunakakai Elementary, Kilohana Elementary, Lānaʻi High and Elementary and Maunaloa Elementary.

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Participating commercial child care facilities in Maui County include: Aloha Kai Academy Inc. in Pāʻia, Camp Hyatt in Kāʻanapali, Carden Academy of Maui in Pukalani, Fairmont Kea Lani Maui Keiki Lani in Wailea, Fun 2 3 Preschool in Kula, HUB 808 at Andaz Maui at Wailea, Imua Inclusion Preschool in Kahului, Kamaʻāina Kids Kahului Toddler Center, Kamaʻāina Kids Makawao Preschool, Kamaʻāina Kids Maui Evangelical Preschool in Kahului, Kamehameha Preschool in Pakūkalo, Kīhei Baptist Preschool, Little Monk Seal Montessori in Kīhei, Maui Adventist Pre Elementary School in Kahului, Maui Preparatory Academy Preschool in Nāpili, MFSS Hale Hiʻipoi Infant Toddler Center in Hāna, MFSS Early Head Start Center in Lahaina, Nā Kamaliʻi Hoaloha in Kalamaula on Molokaʻi, Punana Leo o Hāna, Punana Leo o Lahaina, Roots Preschool in Haʻikū, Sacred Hearts School Aftercare Program in Lahaina, Wailea Beach Resort Kolohe Hut and Westin Family Kids Club in Lahaina.

Participating residential child care facilities in Maui County include: Luana and Chad Abilay, Doris Ann and John Akana, Natasha and Kaulana Andaya, Rebecca Bell, Lauren Bellamy and Yaniv Hergass, Shawna Chang, Victoria Conmy – Kula Playschool, Li-Ana Ritte-Corpuz and Froilan Corpuz, Diana and Edwin Dahilig, Liana and Kamaka Freitas, Melanie and Steven Gaspar, Tiffany and Royce Miyazono, Rubylyn and Chad Otake, Christina and Dwight Parilla, Kimberly Polendey, Karen and Conrad Razo, Farah Rondeau, Licia and Keith Sakamoto, and Maelisa and Clifford Santos.

For a list of schools and child care facilities to be tested across the state, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/wiin.

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