Could Your Child Be Drinking Lead-Tainted Water at School?

When parents send their children to school each day, they trust administrators and teachers with more than their child’s education — they’re trusting the school with their child’s health and safety. Unfortunately, despite the presence of dangerous aging pipes and infrastructure, public schools in the U.S. aren’t required to ensure that the water in the school drinking fountains is free from poisonous lead.

Newark, N.J., has been making headlines recently due to the presence of lead in numerous schools and educational facilities: so far, 30 of the 66 public school buildings in the city have turned off their drinking fountains and posted signs in the bathrooms warning children not to drink from the taps. Instead, students are being provided with bottled water for drinking and food prep.

As the state investigates, more and more schools and educational facilities have been discovered with dangerous amounts of lead in their drinking water.

Nor is Newark the only school district under scrutiny: in parts of Boston, Baltimore and Camden, N.J., some students have been drinking bottled water for years due to contamination concerns. (Unfortunately, for underfunded schools, it’s cheaper to ship in bottled water than to replace damaged lead-based pipes and fixtures.)

While the extent of the issue is worrying, what should really have parents concerned is the fact that most schools don’t test their water for the presence of lead at all. And unless a school tests the water, there’s no way to know whether your child is being exposed to toxic heavy metals each day or not.

This is partly a failure of state legislation — even with the disturbing revelations about Newark, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has declined to make lead testing in schools mandatory throughout the state.

But it’s also a matter of a major loophole in EPA regulations. The federal agency requires that schools only use water from sources that are regularly tested for lead, but the rules don’t account for lead that might be leeched into water when it enters the building itself.

This is a major problem, because many older schools were built during a time when it was still legal to use lead pipes, lead solder and leaded brass drinking fountains. Much of this plumbing has simply never been upgraded or replaced, and is now beginning to leech dangerous metals as it ages.

Public health experts are sounding the alarm, but the sad fact is that on-site testing of the water is schools is completely voluntary, and most schools aren’t testing.

The average American child spends 6-7 hours in school every day — the amount of water they may drink or consume in cafeteria meals over the course of a year isn’t trivial. Exposure to unsafe levels of lead can cause permanent brain damage, high blood pressure and kidney disease.

In severe enough cases, lead poisoning can actually kill.

Public health organizations from around the world agree that there is no safe level for lead exposure in children — it’s time to close this regulatory loophole and require schools around the country to test their pipes and ensure the water being served to children every day is safe.

If you’d like to put pressure on the EPA to close this loophole, please sign the Care2 petition demanding mandatory lead testing in schools today.

54 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Joon m.
Past Member 2 years ago

Hmm!! This blog is really cool, I’m so lucky that I have reached here and got this awesome information.have an essay written for you

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Chris Ringgold
Chris Ringgold2 years ago

Besides, when I was a child, I always wondered why the fountain water tasted nasty. Must've been the Lead. Had no idea prior to reading this article.

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Chris Ringgold
Chris Ringgold2 years ago

Thank God schools are bringing in bottled water for their kids.

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Chris Ringgold
Chris Ringgold2 years ago

Just signed the petition. Governors & other Legislators really need to do a better job of testing their pipes for water.

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Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Probably.

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Christina Klein
Christina Klein2 years ago

VERY GOOD!!!

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Christina Klein
Christina Klein2 years ago

THX!1

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Randy Q.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thank you.

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Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn2 years ago

OMG !

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