Elevated levels of lead are ‘no cause for concern’

By Shannon King
January 30, 2003

Lauren Joseph

Slightly elevated lead levels in the water last semester made it not uncommon to see signs posted in the Mansion that reminded everyone of a popular song by the Dave Matthew’s Band. “Don’t drink the water,” was something that everyone working in the Mansion became used to hearing and the signs in the restrooms became commonplace. The tests being done on the water now are yielding positive results and according to Howard Holden, director of facilities, there is no cause for alarm or worry.

In a letter sent out to the campus community by Stephen Lightcap, vice president of finance and administration, on Jan. 14, it was announced that a few of the sinks in the bathrooms in the Mansion were found to have elevated levels of lead. These rooms included the President’s lavatory, two cold-water outlets within the main kitchen used for hand washing only, and the janitor’s sink. These results came from the testing of the water on Jan. 3 and Jan. 7, done by Keating Environmental Management, Inc.

According to Holden, “The water has been tested several times this year in order to obtain accurate readings, and we are getting back good results.” Under the recommendation of KEM, aerator screens were removed from faucets all across campus because of the sediment that can become trapped in them. “Trapped sediment in the screens can lead tests to suggest there is more lead in the water than there really is.

With the removal of the screens, the facilities department adjusted the water pressure so that the water would not splash when the faucets were turned on. In some places however, the pressure may have to be adjusted even more. If anyone is experiencing problems with a splashing faucet, Holden encourages users to submit their problem via the online service request form on Cabrini’s homepage and type in the specific location where they are experiencing a splashing faucet.

Holden said that situations like this are not uncommon with old buildings like the mansion. Old fixtures can cause problems like this and can and will be dealt with accordingly. The college does offer bottled water to all offices within the Mansion.

There is a water fountain in Widener Center that is out of order, but that has nothing to do with the lead levels. Apparently it is just a maintenance situation in which someone poured paint down the drain. The bluish tint will continue to lurk on the surface until an appropriate cleaning solvent can be obtained to remove it.

Aside from the lead issue, many students have complained that the water in Founder’s Hall and some residential buildings occasionally has a brown tinge to it. Holden explained that the college draws its water from the Philadelphia Suburban Water Company, and anything that happens in the municipal system, such as pipes bursting due to the cold weather or even the testing of fire hydrants, could potentially affect the campus community.

In situations such as this, sediment could be released into the water supply and cause the water to be less than crystal clear. Should members of the community see clouded water due to upsets in the municipal water supply, they may wish to refrain from consuming it.

“The college is taking the appropriate steps and is meeting with the appropriate people to resolve this issue as responsibly as possible,” Holden said. “There really is nothing to be alarmed about.”

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Shannon King

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