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Three drinking water samples at kindergartens exceed WHO guideline value

     The testing of drinking water from a further 21 kindergartens has been completed. The test results indicated that the lead content in three of the 36 drinking water samples taken was 16 micrograms per litre, 10.2 micrograms per litre and 11 micrograms per litre, which exceeded the provisional guideline value for lead of 10 micrograms per litre set in the World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality. The remaining 33 drinking water samples met the WHO guideline value, a spokesman for the Education Bureau (EDB) said today (October 19). The kindergartens are listed in the Annex.

     The spokesman said five drinking water samples were taken from St Thomas' Catholic Kindergarten in Kwai Tsing and Yuen Long Church (CCC) Long Ping Estate Chan Kwong Kindergarten by the Water Supplies Department on October 15. The lead content in two drinking water samples taken from water taps of the inside service systems in the kitchens of the two kindergartens met the WHO guideline value, while the lead content in the drinking water samples taken from the tap of a wall-mounted dispenser in the same kitchen of St Thomas' Catholic Kindergarten and the taps of two wall-mounted dispensers in the same kitchen of Yuen Long Church (CCC) Long Ping Estate Chan Kwong Kindergarten was 16 micrograms per litre, 10.2 micrograms per litre and 11 micrograms per litre, exceeding the WHO guideline value.

     The Department of Health (DH) and the Hospital Authority (HA) have, after reviewing the relevant literature and research from local medical sectors and overseas health organisations, defined the groups which are more easily affected by lead as children aged below 6, pregnant women and lactating women. The HA will focus its resources on pupils currently attending the affected kindergartens and relevant teaching staff who are more easily affected by lead, i.e. pregnant women and lactating women, for arranging blood taking and blood lead testing.

     According to the two kindergartens concerned, the water in the wall-mounted dispensers was used for drinking by both staff and students. There are two pregnant teachers and one lactating teacher in the two kindergartens. The DH will make arrangements for the three teachers and the 762 students of the two kindergartens to have blood taken for testing.

     The EDB has issued letters to inform the kindergartens, parents and staff concerned about the water testing results and will shortly provide relevant information and blood test arrangements for the kindergartens concerned for dissemination to the students' parents and staff. The kindergartens will collate parental consents and other information for the EDB's follow-up. The EDB will liaise closely with the kindergartens in respect of organising the visits for blood taking on the days of appointment, and will provide assistance as appropriate.

     When blood test results are available from the HA, the DH will inform those persons who have received blood tests or their parents in writing via the kindergartens. Those with a blood lead level exceeding the reference value will be separately informed by phone. The DH will take appropriate action, including conducting lead exposure assessments and making arrangements for students to undergo preliminary developmental assessment. Anyone with an elevated blood lead level will have repeated blood tests in a specified period of time.

     Up to October 19, a total of 928 drinking water samples have been taken for testing from 381 kindergartens and 21 schools (public sector and direct subsidy scheme primary and secondary schools built with government funding in 2005 or after). Except for the seven samples from the wall-mounted dispensers of five kindergartens which had a lead content exceeding the WHO guideline value, all the drinking water samples met the WHO guideline value. The latest test results have been uploaded to the EDB website ( and updates will be made when more test results are available.

Ends/Monday, October 19, 2015
Issued at HKT 17:39


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