Thursday, July 7, 2022

UPDATE: Lead levels in Jefferson Hall water now below action level, W&M officials say

Jefferson Hall. (Courtesy William and Mary)
Jefferson Hall. (Courtesy William and Mary)

Update Feb. 3:

There are no longer “threshold levels” of lead in William & Mary’s Jefferson Hall, according to officials.

William & Mary’s Environment, Health & Safety office has retested water in the residence hall and all new samples tested below the Environmental Protection Agency action level of 0.015 milligrams of lead per liter of water, according to a Feb. 3 notice sent from to Jefferson Hall students from Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Residence Life Deb Boykin.

Student will no longer have to run tap water until it cold before using it, the notice said. A “threshold level” of lead is 0.05 milligrams of lead per liter of water.

During the first round of testing, officials took water samples from the third floor kitchen head resident first floor apartment and basement kitchen.

In the second round of testing, officials tested all of the first locations and additional locations in the second floor kitchen, several bathroom sinks and water fountains, the notice said.

The Environment, Health & Safety office did recommend the replacement of a kitchen faucet in the head resident’s first floor apartment, due to small levels of lead and some corrosion on the faucet, the notice said.

“While the sampling result is below the Action Level of 0.015 mg/L, the presence of lead in the first draw sample was present in both the initial and re-sampling event,” the notice said.

The faucet will be replaced by facilities management.

Original story:

Students living in William and Mary’s Jefferson Hall have been alerted that a “threshold level” of lead has been detected in the dormitory’s tap water.

William and Mary students received an email from Deb Boykin, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Residence Life, Friday afternoon regarding drinking water in campus residences.

According to Boykin, the college’s Environment, Health & Safety office performed assurance assessments of tap water during winter break. Ninety samples were taken, and two samples from Jefferson Hall were found to have lead levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory limit.  The “threshold level” is 0.05 milligrams of lead per liter of water.

“Those levels were found in water drawn from the tap after sitting in the building distribution system for an extended period when the university was closed during winter break,” said Boykin in the email to students.  “We tested the water at this time – after it had been sitting in the building’s pipes over the break – because we wanted to make sure our results reflected the most likely scenario for higher lead levels.”

Boykin continued by writing that follow-up samples were drawn from the two locations showed “significantly reduced” levels of lead.

The second samples were taken after running water from faucets on the first and third floors of Jefferson Hall for two minutes. Jefferson’s first floor location showed no lead, and a sample taken from the third floor kitchen contained 0.0229 mg/L of lead.

According to Boykin, the sample drawn from Jefferson’s third floor kitchen was above the EPA’s “action level” of lead is 0.015 mg/L.

“It is important to note that an action-level exceedance is not a violation of drinking water standards but does require additional actions to minimize lead in the drinking water at Jefferson Hall,” Boykin said in her message to students.

Actions that will be taken by William and Mary include re-sampling the water distribution system in Jefferson Hall next week and “investigating and correcting potential sources of lead contamination in any location that exceeds the action level,” Boykin said.

Jefferson Hall residents were advised to run tap water until it is cold to the touch before drinking or cooking, especially if it has been six hours or more since the faucet has been used.  Cold water dissolves lead less quickly than hot water, although hot water is safe for showers, said Boykin.

Boykin said students will be notified with the results of additional samples and of any corrective actions taken as a result.

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