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LAS VEGAS (AP) — When lead levels in drinking water at a community center in Goodsprings topped federal recommendations by 1 part per billion, regional health and school officials tested the blood of the seven children attending the nearby schoolhouse.
The results, reported this week by the Southern Nevada Health District, were that no significant lead contamination was found in the blood of the kids at Goodsprings Elementary School — or the four adults tested with them.
While no amount of lead is considered safe, the federal Environmental Protection Agency sets a 15 parts-per-billion action level. Health officials say exposure can cause behavior problems and learning disabilities, particularly in children.
The community center fountain remains shut off, and bottled water is being provided by the Clark County School District while officials trace the reason for last September's 16 parts-per-billion reading. The district owns the well serving the school and community center.
The former mining town 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas has one of three public water systems in the state where current lead readings have prompted action to shut off the supply, provide bottled water and find a way to bring the provider into compliance, according the Nevada Department of Environmental Conservation.
The others serve the Marigold Mine in Humboldt County, where the reading was 50 parts per billion, and NV Energy's Fort Churchill natural gas-fired power plant in Lyon County, where lead levels registered 16 parts per billion.
"We contact the system and start working with them to identify what's causing the reading and remedy it," said JoAnne Kittrell, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection.
Marigold Mine general manager Duane Peck said Friday he's awaiting test results to confirm that efforts made to eliminate the source of the lead have been successful. He said bottled water is standard practice at the mine in Valmy.
NV Energy spokesman Mark Severts said a 50-year-old water line has been replaced at the Fort Churchill plant, but that employees will continue to use bottled water as they have for more than a decade.
Concern about lead in drinking water has drawn intense interest nationwide since testing in recent months found high lead levels in children in Flint, Michigan, a city of almost 100,000 people, following a change in the source of the public water supply in 2014.
An Associated Press analysis of federal EPA data prior to 2015 suggests lead contamination is less prevalent in Nevada than other parts of the U.S., where nearly 1,400 water systems serving 3.7 million Americans have exceeded the lead standard at least once between Jan. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2015. Federal regulators identified eight water systems in the Silver State with lead levels exceeding federal safety standards during the past three years, including tribal enterprises, a Colorado River resort hamlet, an industrial complex in North Las Vegas, a substance abuse recovery camp near Las Vegas and a recreational vehicle park.
The Department of Environmental Protection has 25 staffers monitoring 580 public water systems statewide for 107 possible contaminants ranging from naturally occurring arsenic, copper, lead and uranium to human-caused organic pollutants.
Of the 23 systems in the state that are currently non-compliant for some type of contaminant, none is in an urban area, Kittrell said.
Lead readings are now compliant in the most-recent tests in systems serving the Harris Springs Ranch recovery center, the old mining town of Goldfield and the community of Jean south of Las Vegas.
Kittrell said readings of 42 parts per billion at Kapex, an industrial park being developed in North Las Vegas, and 17 ppb at the Elko RV Park at Ryndon were being corrected after having been found to have come from improperly collected samples.
The Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada oversees drinking water supplies at eight marinas and harbors on the Colorado River.
Christie Vanover, a National Park Service spokeswoman, said retesting didn't reproduce a high lead reading reported in September 2014 from a sample from a ranger's home at Katherine Landing, a Lake Mohave resort on the Arizona side of the river.
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