Policy Update

First in Science: High Levels of Lead Contamination in School Drinking Water

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National

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Mara Herman
Environmental Health Manager

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Children Face Lead Contamination in School Drinking Water Across the Country

new report from the Harvard School of Public Health analyzes lead contamination in school drinking water. Lead is a widespread issue in states across the country but often goes untested in school systems.

The study analyzed policies in 24 states

The report looked at the 24 states plus the District of Columbia that have policies or programs regarding lead testing in school water. These programs were analyzed to determine which states require testing versus which states have voluntary participation, what levels of lead are acceptable, how the data are released.

Most states in the country don’t require lead testing in school drinking water

Even though 24 states have policies or programs around lead testing, the report highlights that only seven states require testing while the other 17 states have voluntary participation. Among the states that require testing, there are varying levels of what amount of lead is deemed acceptable and how the results are made public. There were only 12 states that had publicly available testing results. Of those, more than 40 percent of schools had at least one sample containing higher levels of lead than the state’s recommended level.

There are at least 11 states considering legislation about lead testing in schools

This report emphasizes the need for more state action on lead testing in school drinking water. Currently, there are at least 11 states considering legislation to require testing in schools. If you are interested in learning more or pursuing lead contamination policies, contact Altinay Karasapan.

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