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Monday, May 1, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Arsenic found in Seattle schools' water; drinking-water system to be shut down

Seattle Times staff

Seattle Public Schools will supply bottled water to all schools after tests revealed levels of arsenic that exceed Environmental Protection Agency standards. Superintendent Raj Manhas announced today that systems would be shut off for further investigation.

Arsenic levels of 11 to 18 parts per billion--above the EPA standard of 10 parts per billion--were found in drinking fountains at five elementary schools: Alternative Elementary No. 2 at Decatur; Gatewood, Leschi, Loyal Heights and Van Asselt.

All of the affected water fixtures, except one at Van Asselt had been turned off and not in use.

The district started testing its water systems more than two years ago and began installing new fountains last year. In January, a citizens committee recommended replacing aging water pipes, at a cost of up to $20 million.

In 2003, parental concern about lead and iron contamination prompted the School Board to shut off city water at most schools and switch to bottled water. Earlier this year, more than 80 of the district's 100 schools were reconnected to the city's system, though some of those schools used city and district water.

School district officials said today that local and state health officials did not request the district shut off its water system.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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