CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is telling students not to use lead-contaminated sinks and drinking fountains in buildings and residence halls on campus.
University officials confirmed Tuesday that 57 out of 84 in-room sinks at Spencer Residence Hall tested positive for lead.
This is in addition to detectable lead levels found in sinks and water fountains across a total of 13 buildings on campus, according to UNC online documents.
Students said they’re hesitant to drink water in any older buildings since testing began.
“My suitemate told me that there was lead in the water and I was like, oh, I should probably stop drinking that,” student Marie Meiller said.
The Environmental Protection Agency said there is no safe level for drinking lead since it is “a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels.”
UNC’s vice chancellor for institutional integrity, George Battle, released a statement.
“The health and safety of our campus community is paramount. We are taking an aggressive approach to resolve this situation and are working with multiple units across campus, as well as our faculty experts at the Institute for Environmental Health Solutions, UNC Institute for the Environment and the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and in coordination with OWASA and the Orange County Health Department.“
The largest number of contaminated fixtures have been found in Spencer Residence Hall, Wilson Library and Carrington Hall.
“They came through the rooms and stuff to test everything, so I’ve known it for a while,” Embrey Morton, who lives in Spencer Residence Hall, said.
Morton said he only ever used bottled water on campus.
“I think it’s kind of unacceptable considering how much we pay to stay here,” Morton said. “I feel like clean water is a thing that you should just have.”
A university spokesperson said additional water coolers have been added to the residence hall and any other buildings without drinkable water. Blood health testing is available for students and staff in the affected buildings.
The school has tested more than two dozen buildings so far, starting with the oldest structures.
Currently, officials are testing water fixtures in buildings built before 1930. Then in the coming weeks, crews will test buildings constructed prior to 1990.
Click here to get the latest lead reports from UNC-Chapel Hill’s health department.