Lead-in-water scare has spread to St Thomas' Primary School in Sham Shui Po

Lead-in-water scare has spread to St Thomas' Primary School in Sham Shui Po

A Hong Kong primary school is affected by lead-contaminated water

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St Thomas' Primary School has found lead in its water supply.
Photo: SCMP

The lead-in-water scare has spread to St Thomas' Primary School in Sham Shui Po, with one water sample found to contain more than four times the safe amount of lead.

The contaminated sample was collected earlier this month from a tap for washing hands in a classroom. Five other samples - in which lead levels were found to be within safety limits - were collected from drinking machines with distillers installed.

Water from the school's kitchen, where food supplied to about 500 teachers and pupils is processed, has yet to be tested.

Principal Tam Hsien-ming told parents that water samples from the kitchen would be tested shortly and distillers would be installed in the meantime.

"The school is highly concerned and has adopted a series of emergency measures," he said.

Tam said the school had taken the samples to a laboratory for tests after drinking water from a number of public housing estates had been found to contain excessive levels of lead in the past month.

Lead is particularly dangerous to children below the age of 13 because their developing bodies absorb more lead and they are more vulnerable to its damaging effects. Organs such as the brain, liver, kidney and heart can all be affected, resulting in behaviour and learning problems, lower IQ, slowed growth and anaemia.

It is difficult to rid the body of lead and other heavy metals. It can be done using chelation therapy, though this can have negative side effects.

Turn the page for clean water

The World Health Organisation says around 3.4 million people die each year due to dirty water. Many more people around the world are not able to get clean drinking water. Any invention that can help to transport or purify water that is dirty is very welcome.

Now, there's a book that can help save lives.

Each pull-out page of the "Drinkable Book" contains nanoparticles of silver that can kill bacteria and purify up to 100 litres of water. In trials, it removed more than 99 per cent of bacteria.

It was invented by Theresa Dankovich, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, US, who was researching a simple, inexpensive way to clean water.

She developed "pAge drinking paper", which is a sturdy sheet of paper loaded with silver and copper nanoparticles that kill dangerous microbes.

Graphic News

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
School's lead scare Turn the page for clean water

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