Environment & Health Hong Kong

Lead water contamination found at primary school

Excessive lead has been found in water samples at a primary school in Sham Shui Po, marking the first time lead contamination is found outside of housing estates.

SKH St Thomas’ Primary School examined its water supplies and found lead content more than three times above international safety standard in one sample.

The school conducted tests on six water samples. One sample from a classroom read 43.2 micrograms per litre—three times over the World Health Organization standard of 10 microgram per litre. The other five samples were from taps where filters have been installed, and all met safety standards.

SKH St Thomas Primary School. Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Exploringlife.

SKH St Thomas Primary School. Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Exploringlife.

The school has notified the Education Bureau of the findings. It plans to install water filters in the kitchen and has also posted notices to warn students not to drink water from taps where filters have not been installed.

The school will host a meeting with parents in early September when the new school term starts.

The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union urged the Education Bureau to work with related departments to find out which schools were of higher risk in water contamination. The union suggested examining water supplies at all schools.

If contamination is found, the bureau should arrange blood checks for students, the union said.

Notice from the school to parents explaining their measures dealing with contamination.

Notice from the school to parents explaining its measures in dealing with contamination. Photo: SKH St Thomas’ Primary School.

A spokesman for the Education Bureau said they will be following up with the school on the matter, reported RTHK.

The school was built in 2011 by Fong Wing Shing Construction, which was not named by the government in the list of construction companies that build the contaminated public estates.

The first case of lead contamination was discovered in early July following a water sampling investigation by the Democratic Party at Kai Ching Estate in Kowloon City. Water samples at other estates were subsequently found to contain lead. The matter became a citywide concern.

The government conducted water samples at 28 estates and 41 projects. Ten public estates were found to have water contamination.

An independent commission chaired by a judge was appointed to investigate the lead-in-water scandal. The commission is expected to report in nine months.

Lead water contamination found at primary school