Environment NC launches new program to “get the lead out” of school drinking water

By: - September 16, 2019 5:03 pm

New toolkit gives North Carolina parents know-how to “Get the Lead Out” of school drinking water

With “back to school” in full swing this week, Environment North Carolina is releasing a new free toolkit to help parents, teachers and administrators “Get the Lead Out” of school drinking water.  With a lack of accurate information on lead contamination in schools throughout the state, this “Back to School Get the Lead Out Toolkit” gives parents, educators, and caretakers information about the problem, solutions, ways to take action, and resources for more information.

“Our kids deserve safe drinking water at school,” said Clean Water Advocate Krista Early.  “We want to give parents, teachers, and school administrators the tools they need to ‘get the lead out.’”

Environment North Carolina will be hosting three separate events to release our Back to School Get the Lead Out Toolkit. These events will occur in Wake County, Guilford County and Mecklenburg County within the next two weeks.

This is from the report:

The problem

We now know the toxic threat of lead in drinking water extends to thousands of communities across the country. In fact, lead is even contaminating drinking water in schools and pre-schools—flowing from fountains and faucets where our kids drink water every day.

Lead is highly toxic, especially for children

A potent neurotoxin, lead affects how our children learn, grow, and behave. According to EPA, “In children, low levels of [lead] exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells.”

There is no safe level of lead.

“EPA has set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at zero because lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels.” In fact, medical researchers estimate that more than 24 million children in America today risk losing IQ points due to low levels of lead. ADHD, anxiety and depression are also linked to exposure of even very low levels of lead.

Lead is contaminating drinking water at schools.

As more schools test their water, they are finding lead. In a growing number of states—including Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, and Washington—available testing data are now showing a high percentages of schools with lead-laced drinking water. In all likelihood, the confirmed cases of lead in schools’ water are just the tip of the iceberg. Any school built before 2014 is likely to have significant lead in its pipes, plumbing, and/or fixtures. And where there is lead, there is risk of contamination.


Install filters now: Installing filters on all taps used for drinking and cooking is an easy, low-cost step schools can take to start protecting children immediately.  Make sure the filters are installed at “point of use” and certified to remove lead.

Get the lead out:  Replacing pipes, plumbing, fountains and/or fixtures that contain lead is the most effective, permanent solution to prevent contamination of the water our children drink at school (or elsewhere).

Remove lead service lines: If the pipe connecting your school (or home or child care center) to the water main in the street is made of lead, that lead service line is likely to be the largest single source of water contamination. Have it replaced as soon as possible.

Doctor’s orders —1 part per billion (ppb): The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that schools keep lead concentrations in water no greater than 1 ppb. Taps used for drinking or cooking that test above 1 ppb of lead should be shut off until remediated.

Ace the test: Regularly test all outlets used for drinking or cooking, using proper sampling methods that are more likely to detect lead contamination.

Communicate: Plans and actual steps taken to prevent lead contamination, along with all test results, should be made easily accessible (including online) to parents, teachers, and the public. Outlets should clearly indicate when filters are due to be replaced.

Click here to read the full report.

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