Is Your Child’s School Water Safe?
According to a very concerning report published by USA Today, lead is tainting the water in over 350 school and childcare center water systems, indicating a nation-wide problem with lead poisoning in school water systems. These tests of school water systems were conducted between 2012-2015.
How Much Lead in the Water? Too Much.
Way too much. One water test concluded that the water drank by kids at a Maine elementary school had lead levels 41 times higher than is considered safe by the EPA.
How Many Schools Affected?
Right now nobody knows. Most of us assume that our children are drinking clean water, but the federal government requires only approximately 10 percent of the nation’s schools and a tiny fraction of daycares to test for lead.
The EPA estimates that about 90,000 public schools and half a million child-care facilities are not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Why? These facilities use water sources such as municipal utilities, and the assumption is made that if the municipality tested as low lead, there’s no problem with the water. The problem is lead seeps into the school’s water system from the school building’s pipes, soldering or fixtures.
As schools are starting to voluntarily test for lead in the water, they are discovering it at an alarming rate, revealing that the problem is much bigger than anyone previously guessed.
How Much Lead Exposure Was Found in North Carolina?
While only a small sampling of schools across the nation have been tested for lead, of the schools tested in North Carolina, 79 schools tested positive for lead levels above the EPA’s level of acceptable lead levels. See this interactive map to see what these initial tests have revealed, keeping in mind that only some of the school water systems have been tested.
What is the Extent of the Health Risks of Lead Exposure?
According to the Mayo Clinic, lead exposure is correlated with the following health risks:
- Brain development problems
- Nervous system development problems
- Kidney failure
What Can You Do?
Contact your school and ask the following questions:
- Has the water for our school been tested for lead? Be sure to clarify that you don’t mean tested at the water municipality, but actually at the school itself. Send them the link to the USA Today report; they may not even realize this is a problem.
- Find out how old your school building is. The older it is, the more likely it is that there are problems with lead leaching into the water system from the school’s old pipes, soldering or fixtures.
- Send your child to school with bottled water to drink or water that has been filtered and then put into a reusable, BPA-free water bottle (better for the environment, and more cost-effective in the long-run).
- Keep in mind that lead may also be in the water used to cook food and wash hands. Send lunches from home instead of allowing your child to eat lunches cooked with school water until you know for certain that the school water system has been tested.
What About Charlotte Water Quality and Your Home?
If you live in an older home, you need to get to your home water system tested for the presence of lead.
Need a Charlotte Water Filtration System?
The only way to ensure your home water system is completely safe is to install a whole house water filtration system. This is an investment, but it will pay off if you are currently spending money on bottled water (and is better for the environment, too – fewer plastic bottles going into landfills!) and in health savings. Learn more about water filtration systems by clicking here.
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