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Health

Montana School Lead Reporting Website Goes Live

Signs warn not to drink the lead-contaminated water from a water fountain in Flint, Mich.
Signs warn not to drink the lead-contaminated water from a water fountain in Flint, Mich.

The state of Montana on Aug. 17 debuted its new online database for monitoring lead in school drinking water.

Kalispell Public Schools is so far the only district with its results up for public view on the new state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) data map.

According to the web portal, three Kalispell schools found elevated levels. DEQ says that affects almost 80 different fixtures.

Kalispell parent Ryan Hunter says his daughter’s school is one of those that tested positive for lead this year.

“It obviously proves the need for the testing and I’m glad the state mandated the tests. Secondly, I was shocked to see how many actually tested positive,” Hunter said.

Hunter says the national focus on lead in schools drew his attention a few years back.

He says he’s been sending his daughter to school with filtered water since she started at Hedges Elementary and now he’s glad he took those measures.

The effect of lead on children can include damage to the brain, red blood cells and kidneys. DEQ says Kalispell Public Schools will address the positive lead results with a combination of filtration and replacement fixtures.

The DEQ mandated in January that public and accredited private schools test all water faucets for lead.

Schools have until December 2021 to send their lead samples in. After that, the state will require schools to sample their water every three years.