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Herman-Kiefer-Health-ComplexThe City of Detroit Health Department is urging all Detroit Public Schools, charter schools and early childhood facilities – such as day cares, preschools and Head Starts – to test their drinking water for the presence of lead. The move is in line with national best practices and recent recommendations of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation is generously supporting this effort with a $135,000 grant.

The educational facilities will pay for the collection of the samples through a third party, and the City will reimburse for the lab testing through money from the grant, up to $225 per building.

Schools and early childhood centers will be required to follow the most recent Environmental Protection Agency protocol and submit drinking water samples to an EPA certified lab. Results must be submitted to the Detroit Health Department within 60 days of testing.

“There’s nothing more important than the health and safety of Detroit’s children,” said Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, Director of the Detroit Health Department.  “Regularly screening drinking water in schools is a well-established best practice.”

Matt Friedman, Chair of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation Board of Trustees, said: “When our Board found out about this effort, we saw it as an opportunity to improve the health of children in the City of Detroit, and we acted quickly to say ‘yes’ to help fulfill an important component of our mission.

“We appreciate our donors – including buyers of tickets for the North American International Auto Show’s Charity Preview – for providing funds that allow us to respond to the community’s needs with grants like this.”

Detroit Public Schools, with funding through this grant, is in the process of testing drinking water in all of its schools. DPS has already tested its 60 elementary-middle schools and received test results back for nine schools. Of the nine, only the one for the 100-year-old former Beard Elementary – which is no longer used as school building – showed results that indicate lead levels above the EPA protocol.

Though no classes are held inside Beard Elementary, there are two portable buildings on the school’s property that a Head Start provider uses as classrooms for two Pre-K classes. Samples for drinking water inside those buildings is being tested, and results will be released as soon as they are returned.

Along with the effort to test drinking water, the Detroit Health Department will also offer in-school lead screening for students 6 years and younger, and to all students at schools with water with high lead levels. The United Way for Southeastern Michigan is ready to answer any questions citizens may have about lead through its 2-1-1 line.

Parents who would like to have their child tested for elevated lead levels should contact their pediatrician, the Detroit Medical Center Department of Pediatrics, or the Detroit Health Department’s clinics at Samaritan Center (313-410-8142; at 5555 Connor, Detroit, 48213) or Family Place (313-410-7803; at 8726 Woodward Ave., Detroit, 48202).

Principals or school administrators can contact Matt Vallevand at the Detroit Health Department with questions or concerns at dhealth@detroitmi.gov.

About lead

The quality of Detroit’s drinking water is better than EPA standards, with lead in the city’s water measuring 2.3 parts per billion – far below the EPA’s federal action level of 15 parts per billion. Still, pipes in older buildings can sometimes deposit lead into the drinking water within buildings.

The likelihood of elevated lead being found in Detroit children has decreased by half over the past six years. The Detroit Health Department has launched a citywide task force on lead to make sure that any children with elevated levels receive all the services for which they are eligible.

About Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation

Established in 2003, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing the health and healthcare of the children of Michigan.  This is accomplished through philanthropic support for pediatric medical education, research, and community benefit programs.  The foundation granted $5.7 million in 2014 for vital pediatric health initiatives. The foundation is an independent public charity governed by a board of 29 directors, and is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization. Learn more atwww.chmfoundation.org

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