Penn State

Lead in Penn State water follows chromium concerns

News that Penn State has a metallic presence in some water has come out for the second time in two months.

On Thursday, the university issued a release notifying the University Park campus users that some locations have a lead presence.

“During sampling conducted earlier this summer, 103 tap water samples were tested from 30 buildings across campus. Of those, 13 individual samples (12.6 percent) had readings with elevated samples, which do exceed EPA’s action level for lead of 15 parts per billion (0.015 mg/l). The elevation was slight in many of those 13 samples, while a few samples did produce higher level,” the release stated.

According to Penn State, further testing was done that found all but three buildings were below action levels for lead. Those are all part of the Nittany Apartments, specifically buildings 2401, 4303 and 5708.

Additional locations not originally sampled also are below action levels, including the Hort Woods, Bennett Family and Daybridge Child Care Centers, the HUB-Robeson Center, the Intramural Building and University Health Services. Additional source water sampling results indicate lead levels below the levels of detection,” Penn State’s release said.

Lead can cause brain and kidney problems and is a particular problem for children and pregnant women. The university gave a list of precautions for reducing the lead exposure, like running the water to flush out lead that could accumulate as it sits in pipes; using cold water to prepare baby formula, as hot is more likely to dissolve in hot water; not boiling water, since there is nothing to kill; seek alternate water sources or use treatment methods; test water; have children’s blood tested; and eliminate fixtures which may contain lead.

According to Penn State, none of the buildings or apartments at the university include lead service lines. The University Park water system delivers 2.4 million gallons of water a day and is sampled for lead content every three years. The university says there is no lead in the source water.

“...In addition to the routine sampling of a portion of its buildings, Penn State now is developing a plan to test for drinking water in all buildings on campus,” said Penn State spokesman Curtis Chan.

In September, Penn State was identified as one of three systems in Centre County that had another metal. The university’s water, along with State College Borough Water Authority and Pennsylvania American water in Philipsburg, were all noted to have small amounts of chromium-6.

“The figures for our levels of chromium-6 posted online are the result of a special request made by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2014 to perform chromium-6 monitoring under the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring regulation, which required many — but not all — public water systems to monitor chromium-6 for a one-year period,” said Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers. “Penn State complied and, as these published results show, our levels are far below the EPA federal standard of 100 ppb.”

According to the university, all residents were contacted about the water sampling issues with the lead.

“Penn State goes above and beyond to safeguard the water for the people who live, work and visit campus from the source, treatment and distribution of water, including exceeding mandated testing minimums and even testing for things that are not required or regulated,” said David Gray, senior vice president for Finance and Business. “We want our students, faculty, staff and visitors to know that their health and safety is paramount, and that we appreciate their patience as we investigate this further.”

More information about the university’s water quality is available at

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce