June 28, 2016
Topic: Campus News
The University of Michigan Department of Occupational Safety & Environmental Health will systematically test the drinking water for levels of lead and copper in all buildings on the Ann Arbor campus.
The testing, which is being performed over the summer, is being done out of an abundance of caution, explains Terry Alexander, OSEH executive director.
"We have no indication of any problems with the water," Alexander says. "In light of the water crisis in Flint and other cities across the nation, we thought it was prudent to assess the drinking water quality of our working and living environments."
Drinking water already has been tested on the campuses of UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn.
Alexander says limited water testing on campus in the past has shown little risk of exposure to lead or copper.
"This project will methodically assess the potential for lead and copper in the drinking water provided to all campus buildings. If there is a risk of exposure at levels above the regulatory standards, the situation will be addressed immediately," he says.
Alexander says the testing is underway and will be performed consistent with standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (less than 15 parts per billion for lead and 1,300 ppb for copper).
First to be tested will be child-care facilities, residence halls and athletic facilities, where summer camps are underway. The work is expected to be completed before classes resume in September.
Water testing results will be posted on the OSEH website (oseh.umich.edu) starting in mid-July and will be provided to key administrators within each building. The testing is being performed at RTI Laboratories in Livonia.
Drinking water on the Ann Arbor campus is provided by the city of Ann Arbor. The water meets state and federal Safe Drinking Water Act standards for potential contaminants, including lead and copper, as it leaves the city's treatment plant, according to the Annual Water Quality Report issued by the city.
After water leaves the treatment plant, lead may be present in various parts of the city distribution and building plumbing systems in the form of lead solder, brass fixtures or lead pipes. The best location to sample for contaminants is at the point of use within the building. Drinking water outlets in buildings include drinking fountains, refill stations and kitchen faucets.