Sac State's Director of Environmental Health and Safety Steve Leland says the lead comes from soldering used on pipes and plumbing fixtures.
"It is a concern," says Leland. "It's not just older pipes; it's in some of the newer fixtures."
The samples were collected over the winter break when classes were not in session and many of the fixtures hadn't been activated in a number of weeks.
Leland says over time, when the water sits in contact with fixtures, lead can seep into the drinking water.
"Some of these fixtures hadn't been activated in a number of weeks," says Leland. "And then the first draw sample is representative of the lead that leached back into the water over that period of time. We haven't done any additional sampling but we're working towards getting a third-party consultant."
Out of the university's 450 drinking fountains and sinks, 85 of them are now shut down.
"As soon as we were aware of these elevated levels we immediately shut down the fountains that were of concern, and they won't be reactivated until we're satisfied that the levels are acceptable," says Leland.
He says the university is awaiting guidance from state, city and county officials.
The initial water samples were collected by Sacramento State professors Dr. Jeffery Foran, Dr. Justin Miller-Schulze, Dr. Catherine Ishikawa, and their team of students.
People most sensitive to lead exposure include children and women who are pregnant or nursing.