With “back to school” in full swing this week, Environment America Research & Policy Center today is offering a free toolkit to Get the Lead Out of schools’ drinking water. Citing a lack of accurate information on lead contamination in water and how schools should prevent it, the group aims to help parents, teachers, and school administrators grapple with a serious health threat facing our children.
“Lead is a potent neurotoxin, affecting the way our kids learn, grow, and behave,” said John Rumpler, clean water program director for Environment America Research & Policy Center. “Our toolkit is designed to help parents, teachers, and administrators get the lead out.”
More and more schools are finding lead in their water. In Massachusetts, for example, lead has been detected in schools’ water at roughly half of 67,000 faucets and fountains tested so far.
Moreover, such confirmed cases of lead-laced water are likely just the tip of the iceberg. As noted in the toolkit, most schools built before 2014 have plumbing and/or fixtures that can leach lead into drinking water. And at some older schools, the service lines that bring water from the mains in the street into buildings are made entirely of lead.
“Many parents had a new water bottle on their ‘back to school’ shopping list,” said Rumpler. “Let’s make sure the water that going into that bottle is safe to drink.”
Environment America Research & Policy Center’s toolkit includes a factsheet, a video, sample materials to press for action, and links to additional resources, especially on technical questions like proper testing.
As the group documented in a report earlier this year, state and federal regulations do not require schools to take the steps needed to prevent drinking water from becoming laced with lead. It is falling to parents to press for action at the local level.
“Ensuring safe drinking water at school is not always an easy homework assignment,” said Rumpler. “We hope our toolkit helps parents demand action to protect their children’s health.”