PSU tests water in residence halls for lead
Author: John Kirkland
Posted: August 3, 2016

(Portland, Ore.) Aug. 3, 2016 – Water testing at Portland State University found levels of lead that exceed federal standards in eight faucets in four of the university’s smaller and older residence halls. None of the faucets are in rooms that are currently occupied.

The tests were part of an ongoing project to test lead levels in all the buildings of PSU’s 50-acre campus.

The university will replace the faucets in those rooms and follow up with continued testing. In the meantime, the PSU housing department will provide bottled water for all students living in the four halls: Parkway, Blackstone, Stratford and King Albert.

“Our results are not unusual for older buildings, and indicate that the likely sources of the lead are a few isolated faucets,” said Mike Walsh, PSU’s director of housing and residence life. “These faucets will be replaced starting today, and we will test all remaining residence hall sink faucets and replace them based on the test results.”

The eight rooms where faucets will be replaced had lead levels above the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion. The tests were conducted in unoccupied rooms, which means the water sat in the pipes for two to four weeks, Walsh said. Higher lead levels typically are detected in faucets that are not used regularly.

The results came from random testing of sample rooms in PSU’s residence halls. PSU will expedite testing of all kitchen and bath faucets in all 10 residence halls, giving top priority to the four halls where lead was a factor. 

There are 654 students living in the residence halls over the summer. That number is expected to go up to 2,150 in the fall.

In the meantime, Portland Water Bureau recommends ways to reduce lead in the water.

  • If the water has not been used for several hours, run each tap for at least 30 seconds or until it becomes colder before drinking or cooking. 
  • Use cold, fresh water for cooking and preparing baby formula.
  • Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.
  • Do not boil water to remove lead.  Boiling water will not reduce lead.

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