24 October 2016
Carrie Lam (inset) says the government will test the water supply at kindergartens after all. Photo: HKEJ
Carrie Lam (inset) says the government will test the water supply at kindergartens after all. Photo: HKEJ

Govt makes U-turn on water testing at kindergartens

The government will test the water supply at 980 kindergartens for lead contamination, reversing a controversial decision not to do so, Apple Daily reported Wednesday.

Chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said Tuesday, the day the new school term began, that once the testing for kindergartens is finished, the government will also conduct tests for 80 primary and secondary schools built after 2005.

Asked during a Legislative Council meeting why primary schools were not given priority for testing, Lam replied that the government’s resources are limited and that the schools can better protect their pupils by installing water filters.

Last month, Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim refused to conduct water tests for all schools in Hong Kong and said the government did not recommend that schools do the testing on their own.

However, Ng changed his tune a few days ago, saying the government did not object to schools conducting their own tests as long as they followed proper procedures. 

Meanwhile, the lead contamination crisis has spread to a university and secondary schools, Ming Pao Daily reported.

Lingnan University revealed Tuesday that two water samples collected on campus were found to contain more lead than the World Health Organization’s safety standard of 10 micrograms per liter.

The amount of lead in a sample from a water boiler in the student canteen was 12 mcg per liter, 20 percent higher than the WHO maximum, and that from a water dispenser at the university’s sports ground was 25 mcg per liter, 2.5 times the standard.

At True Light Girls’ College in Yau Ma Tei, one-third of the water samples the secondary school collected were found to contain excessive lead.

One sample contained lead 10.4 times higher than the safety standard.

The school has installed filters at its water dispensers and stopped using facilities that were found to have contaminated water, the report said.

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