Elevated Lead Levels Found in Water at 26 County Schools, Some of the County's Lowest Performing Schools

Elevated lead levels were found inside 26 schools across Anne Arundel County, including some of the lowest performing schools in the district, according to documents obtained by Report Annapolis. 

In May 2017, a bill sponsored by former Baltimore County Delegate Stephen Lafferty (D) was signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan which required certain public and nonpublic schools to be tested for the presence of lead in all drinking water sources.  

Water samples recently taken from 15 elementary schools, 6 middle schools, 2 high schools and 3 specialty schools contained lead levels which exceeded the action level threshold. The action level, or the concentration of lead, for drinking water in school buildings is 20 parts per billion which, if exceeded, triggers required remediation.

Results originating from tests conducted during the current academic year by Baltimore-based Martel Laboratories show elevated lead levels from a total of 47 drinking water sources within the following elementary schools:

Brock Bridge Elementary School
Brooklyn Park Elementary School
Central Elementary School
Glen Burnie Park Elementary School
Hillsmere Elementary School
Hilltop Elementary School
Linthicum Elementary School
Maryland City Elementary School
Oakwood Elementary School
Riviera Beach Elementary School
Shady Side Elementary School
Solley Elementary School
Sunset Elementary School
Tracey’s Elementary School
Woodside Elementary School

Collectively, those elementary schools represent an average action level of 116 parts per billion.  

A total of 31 lead-contaminated water sources were found at the following middle and high schools:

Annapolis Middle
Chesapeake Bay Middle School
Corkran Middle School
George Fox Middle School
Lindale Middle School
McAuthur Middle School

Glen Burnie High School
North County High School

Lead test results associated with those schools indicate a 63.8 parts per billion action level average.

Reports dated February 2020 show high levels of lead found in samples taken from the following specialty schools: 

Central Special
Ruth Parker Eason
West Meade Early Education Center

111.7 parts per billion is the average action level between those three schools.  

Some of these schools struggled academically and performed lower last year compared to other schools across the county and the state.  

In 2019, Traceys Elementary ranked worse than 52.3% of elementary schools in Maryland. It also ranked 50th among 80 ranked elementary schools in the Anne Arundel County Public School district. Water sources inside three classrooms at the south county school required immediate action to be taken after lead test results indicated excessive levels.  

Elevated lead levels were found in four different water sources at Corkran Middle School, including two home economics sinks.  In 2019, Corkran ranked worse than 70.3% of middle schools in Maryland. It also ranked 18th among 19 ranked public middle schools in the county. 

Last year, Glen Burnie High performed worse than 87% of high schools in Maryland, and it also ranked 11th among 12 ranked Anne Arundel County high schools.  On October 2 and November 15 2019, lead water samples were collected from various areas inside the school, including hallways and a food prep area. Test results determined twelve (12) sources had levels of lead exceeding the action level of 20 parts per billion for lead in drinking water in school buildings.

Scientists have linked the effects of lead with lowered IQ in children.  The following information was included in a resource guide published by the Maryland State Department of Education:

Lead poisoning is one of the most common environmental child health problems in the United States and is caused by too much lead in the body. Lead is especially harmful to children younger than 6, but anyone who eats, drinks or breathes something which has too much lead can get lead poisoning.

Large amounts of lead in a child's blood can cause brain damage, mental retardation, behavior problems, anemia, liver and kidney damage, hearing loss, hyperactivity, developmental delays, other physical and mental problems, and in extreme cases, death.