The arsenic is presumed to be natural, the EPA said.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BRACEVILLE -- In response to elevated arsenic readings, drinking fountains will remain shut off and water coolers will be used at Vaughn Elementary School until the Ohio EPA says the school's well water is again safe to drink.
School officials are being aggressive in trying to find and resolve a situation, "trying to make sure that our youngsters and staff safety is No. 1 priority," said Alex Geordan, principal of the school, which is part of the LaBrae district.
The Ohio EPA did not order the drinking fountains shut off, but school administrators decided to do so as a precaution, he said.
Reason for concern: Geordan said an EPA official told him the water would pose a danger of causing adverse health effects, such as skin damage and circulatory problems, only in cases of long-term consumption as the main drinking water souce.
The EPA has said the school's well water is safe for toilet, hand-washing, dish-washing and janitorial uses, Geordan said.
During the first week in December, a borderline arsenic level was found in the school's well water, then three additional tests were taken and the four were averaged, Geordan explained.
The EPA notified school officials Dec. 26 while the school was closed for Christmas break that the arsenic standard had been exceeded.
School officials then turned off the drinking fountains and installed the water coolers while the school was still on Christmas break.
What's suspected: Geordan said an EPA official told him the arsenic is presumed to be naturally occurring, perhaps having been concentrated in a reduced water supply during last year's drought.
Geordan said it's possible that the rapid rainfall accumulation late in the year could then have flushed the arsenic into the well in larger than usual amounts. The EPA will return to test the water monthly, he said.