Excessive lead found in tap water at Sham Shui Po primary school

August 24, 2015 13:20
Legislator Ip Kin-yuen (inset) said water tests should be conducted for all school buildings, especially those built less than 10 years ago. Photos: RTHK, Internet

Drinking water in a primary school in Sham Shui Po yielded lead content beyond the safety limits, laboratory tests show.

One sample, taken from the tap of a classroom at SKH St. Thomas’ Primary School, was found to have 43.2 micrograms of lead per liter, or 3.3 times higher than the World Health Organization's safety standard, Apple Daily reported.

The school administration submitted six water samples taken from drinking fountains and faucets inside the campus to an accredited laboratory for testing on Aug. 7. Each sample was taken after running the tap for one minute.

Five of the samples, taken from drinking fountains with filters, were found to have lead content below 5 micrograms per liter.

However, unfiltered water taken from a faucet at classroom 1A, which is located on the first floor of the building, was found to have lead content that exceeds the WHO standard 3.3 times.

Lau Yin-kwan, head of the school's guidance office, said water from the classroom tap comes from the water tank at the rooftop, which is the same source for water used in the school kitchen.

The school's catering service provider has been using unfiltered tap water coming from the same source to cook lunch for 576 students and school staff.

The kitchen has been ordered closed until the water it uses is confirmed safe and the installation of filters for taps completed. 

The Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim did not reply to reporters' questions on whether water tests will be conducted in all local school buildings or blood tests arranged for school pupils.

Ng only said an inter-departmental investigation team has been following up the tainted water saga.

Meanwhile, the education bureau will seek further professional advice and support from relevant departments if new tests on water samples from SKH St. Thomas’ Primary School show excessive lead content.

Legislator Ip Kin-yuen, who represents the education sector, chastised the bureau for not taking a proactive stance on the tainted water issue.

He said water tests should be conducted for all school buildings, especially those built less than 10 years ago.

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