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Lead Danger Prompts Oregon District To Warn Against Eating District Produce

Concerns about lead contamination continue to bedevil American school administrators and families.

Portland, Ore., public schools, already under fire for how the district has handled lead testing and communicated those findings to the public, has now warned employees and school families not to eat produce grown in school gardens, the Oregonian reported.

A district spokesman told the paper that produce—including fruits and vegetables—grown in the school gardens may contain dangerous lead levels if they were watered from contaminated sources.

The district cited guidance from the Oregon Health Authority as the reason for its warning. The state agency has not tested the district's soil or vegetables grown in its gardens, the paper reported.

The district tested water sources at all schools in June and July, and it found elevated lead levels in some sources in nearly all schools, KGW.com reported.

There are no safe levels of lead exposure; however, the federal Environmental Protection Agency recommends that action be taken if lead is present in water at more than 15 parts per billion.

Since the lead-contamination water crisis bubbled up in Flint, Mich., last year, districts have been under pressure to test their drinking water sources and to be upfront about the results. Elevated lead levels have been found in drinking water in a number of districts, including Chicago and Newark, N.J.

The Portland district has faced criticism for how it has dealt with the lead contamination issue. Superintendent Carole Smith announced in July that she was resigning after a stinging independent report that was critical of how the district handled lead testing, its testing protocols, and how it communicated those test results to the public. 

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