Hong Kong's tainted water scare

Is your children's school affected? Four Hong Kong ESF schools have lead in water above recommended guidelines

Foundation says it took immediate action to close down tainted water sources; 300 other tests found lead levels within guidelines

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 September, 2015, 4:20pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 September, 2015, 10:04am

Water samples taken at four English Schools Foundation schools were found to contain levels of lead slightly above government guidelines, the foundation revealed.

The foundation said it ordered the tests amid a scandal over lead in water, which started at a public housing estate in July and has since spread to several public schools.

The ESF revealed in its newsletter that one sample of water tested at each of King George V School in Ho Man Tin, Sha Tin College, South Island School in Aberdeen and West Island School in Pok Fu Lam was found to have lead levels “slightly above the guidelines”. Tests on some 300 other samples taken from ESF schools were found to be “within the guidelines”.

The Hong Kong government follows guidelines from the World Health Organisation for drinking water, which state water should not contain more than 10 micrograms of lead per litre.

The ESF did not state the exact levels of lead found, or where in the schools the tainted water was taken from.

The foundation said health and safety of children and staff was its No 1 priority, and that the four water source had been shut down to ensure water quality.

The ESF runs five secondary and nine primary schools, and a school for children with special needs. Through a subsidiary company it runs two further schools and four kindergartens.

Meanwhile, Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim confirmed that samples from 12 kindergartens involved in a first round of lead tests were within the safety threshold.

The government will start testing water from around 80 primary and secondary schools, and those for children with special needs, on Wednesday. It will take around three months to complete water tests for all kindergartens and schools built in or after 2005.

Ng said starting from today, results of water tests at schools would be uploaded daily to the website of the Education Bureau.

He said if any samples were found to contain excessive levels of lead, the Department of Health would be informed immediately and arrange blood tests for pupils and any pregnant staff.