Drinking water samples taken at two public schools in Yarmouth had lead levels that exceed Environmental Protection Agency standards, the school superintendent said Wednesday in an email to staff and parents.

Water tests from three drinking fountains and nine faucets at Yarmouth Elementary School – the town’s oldest – showed lead levels of more than 15 parts per billion, the EPA standard, said Superintendent Andrew R. Dolloff.

At Harrison Middle School, test results from four faucets used for handwashing, but not food preparation or drinking, had levels above 15 parts per billion. But none of the drinking fountains or bottle-fill stations at Harrison exceeded the standards, Dolloff said.

The email did not say how high lead levels were and phone messages to Dolloff were not returned Wednesday night.

Dolloff said he plans to meet with the Yarmouth School Committee on Sept. 8 to discuss the results and answer questions from residents.

Staff will place 5-gallon bottled water dispensers in each classroom at Yarmouth Elementary School and in other areas throughout the building. Students and staff will be instructed to drink water only from the dispensers, Dolloff said.


None of the water samples taken from sinks used for food preparation at either school contained lead at or above the federal standard, he said.

“Notices such as this can understandably cause alarm, but we are communicating and taking action with an abundance of caution,” Dolloff said in the email. “By ensuring that students and staff only drink from fountains and bottle fill stations at Harrison Middle School, and bottled water at Yarmouth Elementary School, we will gain the time necessary to conduct further analysis and take appropriate action steps for other sources of water in our buildings.”

Dolloff said water will also be tested at Rowe School, which houses kindergarten and first grade, and Yarmouth High School.

“Although those buildings are newer and are not considered likely candidates for elevated levels of trace elements, we believe it is worth the effort to ensure that our water is as safe as possible,” Dolloff said.

In late July, the Yarmouth School Department hired Dr. Emily Lesher from the Trace Element Lab at Saint Joseph’s College to test water sources in the town’s older schools for elevated levels of lead or copper.

Lead and copper can enter drinking water when clean water interacts with plumbing fixtures.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: