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Tainted fountains shut off at school

Drinking fountains at Quail Hollow Elementary School have been shut down after tests revealed lead contamination exceeding federal limits.

The school's 911 pupils and 85 staff members, including teachers, have been drinking bottled water the past week and likely will continue to do so for six months, principal Ginny Yanson said.

The high lead levels were revealed by routine testing of drinking fountains in December. The school wasn't required to provide bottled water, but Yanson decided that would be best.

"I just did it as an extra precaution," she said. "I think you need to be sensitive to the children and the staff."

The school also is purging its water system daily, allowing water to flow through pipes for 30 to 60 seconds each morning, Yanson said.

Federal guidelines allow the school 18 months to correct the problem, but Yanson said the maintenance staff expects to fix the problem within six months.

Richard Graziano, the district's water and sewage plant operator, could not be reached Tuesday to answer technical questions about the lead levels.

Elevated lead and copper levels from drinking fountains are found periodically during testing at schools. Lead exposure can affect motor skills and brain development.

_ Information from Times files was used in this report.