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Elevated lead levels found at half of Atlanta schools tested

More than half of the Atlanta Public Schools buildings tested this spring showed elevated levels of lead in drinking water, some as high as 15 times the federal limit for water systems.

“What was most upsetting to me were the numbers that were really, really high,” said Amy Kirby, an assistant professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.

So far, 30 Atlanta schools and other buildings have been tested, according to initial results the Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained under Georgia’s Open Records Act. Fourteen schools and two other buildings had at least one source, such as a water fountain or kitchen tap, with lead levels above federal limits for water systems. Testing is expected to be complete by late July.

The schools with the highest lead levels include Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Usher-Collier Heights Elementary School, Crim High School, Inman Middle School, Grady High School and Boyd Elementary School’s temporary site at the former Archer High School.

Parents whose children attend schools with higher reported levels should consider telling them to avoid school water fountains, Kirby said.

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“I would consider sending them with bottled water rather than have them drink from water fountains,” she said.

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