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New Report on Lead in Schools Released

On Wednesday, February 15th, two public interest groups, Environment America Research & Policy Center (a new advocacy group from our point of view) and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG), released a report on lead in drinking water in schools – Get the Lead Out: Ensuring Safe Drinking Water for Our Children at School.  The report reviews the efforts (both mandated and voluntary) in 16 states (New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Pennsylvania, Maine, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Connecticut), as well as a proposed ordinance in Washington DC to address lead in drinking water in schools.
The report uses 1 ppb at its “safe level” and emphasizes the point that no level of lead is safe.  The Executive Summary recommends the adoption of a 1 ppb standard for lead in drinking water in schools, and includes the following statements that may (or may not) generate some interest in your state:
“Unfortunately, so far most states are failing to protect children from lead in schools’ drinking water.  Our review of 16 states’ laws and regulations finds:

  • Several states have no requirements for schools and pre-schools to address the threat of lead in drinking water; and
  • Of the few states with applicable laws, most follow flaws in the federal rules — relying on testing instead of prevention, and using standards that allow health-threatening levels of lead to persist in our children’s water at school.”

The report presents a scoring methodology with five criteria that was used to evaluate state programs, and each state’s program for schools has been assigned a letter grade – one can debate the scoring methodology (or not) but the report clearly lists the five criteria.