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Elevated Lead Levels in US Schools Drinking Water

Posted on: September 5, 2018

Due to old plumbing, schools in several states are removing water fountains and faucets after locating extended degrees of lead in their drinking water. Most experts say water that sits in school pipes over the weekend or breaks, such as the recent summer break, has a higher concentration of lead.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “the Environmental Protection Agency requires public water systems to take action to reduce lead when more than 10% of samples from homes exceed a measurement 15 ppb (parts per billion) of lead. Its voluntary guidance for schools, set in the 1990s, states that schools should take individual water fountains and other fixtures out of service if lead exceeds 20 ppb.” However, there is no national standard of what level of lead is acceptable making the decision hard for schools to determine the appropriate course of action. This is especially true as school districts are not required to test for lead.  Only six states require schools to test for lead: Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

Those schools which have found elevated lead levels are taking action needed to reduce or eliminate the exposure by replacing the necessary drinking fountains, faucets  or by installing filters, water coolers or providing bottled water.

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