EPA confirms Miami Valley Hospital water safe

Water samples taken at Miami Valley Hospital tested within acceptable ranges for lead levels in drinking water, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency confirmed Thursday.

More than 20 days after the hospital originally detected unacceptable lead levels, officials said they will discontinue their use of bottled water for employees and patients at the South Main Street campus near downtown Dayton.

The Ohio EPA said the water in the hospital’s southeast addition, the Berry Women’s Center and the Weber building meets 100 percent of all of the agency’s requirements for drinking water.

Earlier in the week, hospital officials told the Dayton Daily News that 95 percent of water samples tested within acceptable ranges. Now that water samples came back negative, they will resume standard reporting practices.

“Per Ohio EPA guidelines, our standard testing will be done within a six-month reporting period,” said Sharon Howard, Miami Valley Hospital spokeswoman.

According to the EPA, a lead and copper sampling will be executed between July to December 2016, “as prescribed in normal EPA guidelines. We will continue monitoring every six months as prescribed.”

“When our routine water testing identified lead concerns last month, we immediately took action to safeguard the health of patients, employees and visitors by distributing bottled water, testing and flushing our water system, and taking other precautions,” said Mark Shaker, president of Miami Valley Hospital. “As a result of taking appropriate steps through a collaborative approach, we were able to resolve this matter as soon as possible.”

On June 17, the Dayton Daily News first reported the hospital found elevated lead levels in the southeast addition of the campus. Upon further testing, two more buildings — the Berry Women’s Center and the Fred E. Weber Center for Health Education — were identified as having elevated levels as well.

A panel of national experts, including Virginia Tech’s Marc Edwards, continue to investigate what the source of the contamination is. Edwards is known for discovering the water contamination in Flint, Mich.

“We will take steps that prevent external events from affecting the city water entering our campus,” Shaker said.

Since December, the only significant short-term physical disturbance to the area around the hospital campus has been construction on Brown and Warren Streets by the city of Dayton, the hospital said in a release.

While hospital officials have stated their concern about the construction, city spokeswoman Toni Bankston said the EPA has not ruled any official cause of the contamination.

City manager Shelley Dickstein told the Dayton Daily News last week that the road construction to the water main was completed the first week of March. Workers are now finishing construction on the road, curbs and sidewalk areas. Construction won’t stop while water experts determine the cause of the problem.

“The actual pipe work was done at the beginning of March,” Dickstein said. “So halting the project at this point would not result in a whole lot of impact for what’s happening as it relates to the water distribution.”

The hospital has had contaminated water problems in the past. In 2011, Legionnaire’s disease broke out in a new 12-story patient tower at MVH that was traced to the plumbing system in the new tower. One patient’s death was attributed to the outbreak, according to the Ohio Department of Health, while 10 other patients contracted Legionnaire’s disease.

As of Wednesday, the results for lead level blood tests had been received for 104 employees. All 104 came back within normal levels, hospital officials said.

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