Detroit to shut drinking water to all schools after lead found

Aug 29 (Reuters) - Detroit authorities on Wednesday ordered drinking water shut off at all 110 city public schools pending further testing after elevated levels of lead and copper were found in water at more than a dozen buildings.

Over the weekend, supplies were cut at 16 schools and bottled water was provided until water coolers arrive, Detroit Public Schools Community District superintendent Nikolai Vitti said.

Although there is no evidence of elevated levels of copper or lead in other schools, Vitti decided to shut off water throughout the system "until a deeper and broader analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions for all schools," he said in a statement.

"We have no reason to believe that any children have been harmed," Chrystal Wilson, a spokeswoman for the district, said.

About 50,000 students are enrolled in the district, which operates 110 schools, according to its website.

Detroit public schools students are due to start classes on Tuesday, though teachers are already working.

Water safety is a particularly sensitive issue in Michigan, where lead contamination in the water supply of Flint prompted dozens of lawsuits and criminal charges against former government officials.

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The Flint Water Plant tower is seen in Flint, Michigan, U.S. on February 7, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo
QUALITY REPEAT Running tap water is seen in Flint, a city struggling with the effects of lead-poisoned drinking water, Michigan May 4, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
QUALITY REPEAT A sign is seen next to a water dispenser at North Western high school in Flint, a city struggling with the effects of lead-poisoned drinking water, in Michigan May 4, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A combination photo showing mugshots of eight of the nine city and state officials who the Michigan Attorney General charged with crimes related to the Flint, Michigan, U.S. Water Crisis in this image released August 18, 2016. The officials are, top row L-R: Michael Prysby, Adam Rosenthal, Robert Scott and Patrick Cook. Bottom row L-R: Corinne Miller, Michael Glasgow, Liane Shekter-Smith and Nancy Peeler. Courtesy Michigan Attorney General's Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
QUALITY REPEAT A pictures of damaged pipes from Flint, a city struggling with the effects of lead-poisoned drinking water, is seen as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (2-L) attends a meeting between local and federal authorities with U.S. President Barack Obama, in Flint, Michigan May 4, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tours the Flint Water Plant and Facilities in Flint, Michigan, U.S., September 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tours the Flint Water Plant & Facilities in Flint, Michigan, U.S., September 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
A glass of filtered water from Flint, a city struggling with the effects of lead-poisoned drinking water, is seen during a meeting between local and federal authorities with U.S. President Barack Obama in Michigan, May 4, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Barack Obama drinks a glass of filtered water from Flint, a city struggling with the effects of lead-poisoned drinking water, during a meeting will local and federal authorities in Michigan, May 4, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Sue Quintanilla, a local resident from Flint, a city struggling with the effects of lead-poisoned drinking water, offers a glass of water to U.S. President Barack Obama as he delivers remarks at North Western High School in Michigan, May 4, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Mari Copeny, 8, of Flint, Michigan, waits in line to enter a hearing room where Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will testify before a House Oversight and government Reform hearing on "Examining Federal Administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint, Michigan, Part III" on Capitol Hill in Washington in this March 17, 2016, file photo. Beyond the liability protection enjoyed by government officials, Flint residents who have filed lawsuits over the contaminated water may face challenges in demonstrating that it caused any particular injuries, lawyers and legal experts say. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Files
Volunteers distribute bottled water to help combat the effects of the crisis when the city's drinking water became contaminated with dangerously high levels of lead in Flint, Michigan, March 5, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Latoya Ervin puts a blood sample into a machine to test for lead poison levels at a clinic set up to help screen for the effects of the crisis when the city's drinking water became contaminated with dangerously high levels of lead in Flint, Michigan, March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Lagretta Hinton (C) gets her blood tested for lead poison levels by Lashae Campbell as she holds her grandson Shawn Bozier at a clinic set up to help screen for the effects of the crisis when the city's drinking water became contaminated with dangerously high levels of lead in Flint, Michigan, March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Demonstrators protest over the Flint, Michigan contaminated water crisis outside of the venue where the Democratic U.S. presidential candidates' debate was being held in Flint, Michigan, March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
Demonstrators protest over the Flint, Michigan contaminated water crisis outside of the venue where the Democratic U.S. presidential candidates' debate was being held in Flint, Michigan, March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy are sworn in to testify before a House Oversight and government Reform hearing on "Examining Federal Administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint, Michigan, Part III" on Capitol Hill in Washington March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
The front of the Flint Water Plant is seen in Flint, Michigan January 13, 2016. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday it was joining a criminal investigation of lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint, Michigan, exploring whether laws were broken in a crisis that has captured international attention. Picture taken January 13, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
The front of the Flint Water Plant is seen in Flint, Michigan January 13, 2016. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday it was joining a criminal investigation of lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint, Michigan, exploring whether laws were broken in a crisis that has captured international attention. Picture taken January 13, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The Flint River is seen flowing thru downtown in Flint, Michigan, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
Flint resident Ruby Adolph carries bottled water and a replacement water filter she received at a fire station in Flint, Michigan January 13, 2016. Michigan National Guard members were set to arrive in Flint as soon as Wednesday to join door-to-door efforts to distribute bottled water and other supplies to residents coping with the city's crisis over lead-contaminated drinking water. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
Michigan National Guard member David Brown helps to distribute water to a line of residents in their cars in Flint, Michigan January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) (3rd R) leads a news conference about potential legislation in response to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (L-R), Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 28, 2016. A coalition of Flint, Michigan, residents and national advocacy groups on Wednesday added a new front to the ongoing legal battle over the city's water crisis, filing a lawsuit seeking to compel the city and state officials to replace the lead pipes that carry the municipal water supply. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
FLINT, MI - SEPTEMBER 14: A pro-Trump supporter waits for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to arrive for a visit to the Flint Water Treatment Plant September 14, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. While in Flint, Trump will also meet with several ministers from the area. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
A wall of empty water bottles is held as a backdrop as media films while Minister Rigel Dawson, North Central Church of Christ, speaks while calling out Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump during a press conference outside of the Flint Water Treatment Plant on Sept. 14, 2016 before Trump's visit to Flint, Mich. Residents, activists and officials held 'Water Not Walls' conference to denounce Trump for using the Flint Water Crisis as a campaign prop. (Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press/TNS via Getty Images)
FLINT, MI - SEPTEMBER 14: An anti-Trump protestor wears a shirt that expresses her opinion while waiting for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to arrive for a visit to the Flint Water Treatment Plant September 14, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. While in Flint, Trump will also meet with several ministers from the area. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Placards posted above water fountains warn against drinking the water at Flint Northwestern High School in Flint, Michigan, May 4, 2016, where US President Barack Obama met with locals for a neighborhood roundtable on the drinking water crisis. / AFP / Jim Watson (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
FLINT, MI - MARCH 17: General view of the Flint River as it passes through downtown on March 17, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. Flint continues to work through the effects of water contamination. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
FLINT, MI - MARCH 17: Discolored water leaks from a fire hydrant as Flint Fire Department works to put out a fire in an abandoned home on March 17, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. Flint continues to work through the effects of water contamination. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Flint, Michigan resident Desiree Duell, 35, reacts as Rick Snyder, governor of Michigan, not pictured, testifies during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, March 17, 2016. Democrats in Congress Thursday called on Snyder, once a rising Republican star considered as a potential vice president and now fighting to keep his job, to resign for missing the warning signs of lead contamination in Flints water supply. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
FLINT, MI - MARCH 17: A City of Flint Sewer Dept. marker flag waves in the wind on a block where lead water lines have started to be replaced on March 17, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. Flint continues to work through the effects of water contamination. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
People wait in line to attend a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy about the tainted water in Flint, Michigan, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, March 17, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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Medical research has linked lead to a stunting of children's neural development. Exposure to copper can cause gastrointestinal distress, anemia and disrupt liver and kidney functions, according to public health officials.

Flint, a working class city where most residents are African-American, switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River in April 2014 to cut costs. The corrosive river water caused lead to leach from pipes. The city switched back to Lake Huron water in October 2015, but the contamination continued.

Vitti said he initiated water testing of all of Detroit's school buildings in the spring and the testing was not required by federal, state or city rules.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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