Resource: The Lead in School Water Project

Child at drinking fountain
Image: Pixabay

Good information about lead in school water is too hard to find. The Lead in School Water Project wants to change that.

BERKELEY, Calif. — ​​​​​​​​​​​The Lead In School Water Project is the first web-based application to rank and track every U.S. state in terms of school-related lead exposure, testing and policy. This project’s goal is to provide a free public resource for parents, facility managers and regulators to monitor the latest data on their school’s waterborne lead concentrations.

What Motivates This Project?

For every state, SimpleWater sought to evaluate policies, testing requirements, and data availability for the prevention of childhood lead exposure in schools and daycare centers. SimpleWater systematically reviewed all state websites, datasets, reports and policies pertaining to school lead programs. The team conducted interviews and consulted experts to capture the most relevant information for a transparent public database.

SimpleWater discovered good information was often way too hard to find. Information on the prevention of childhood lead exposure in schools and daycares should be very simple for anyone to access online, but analysis identified a range of policy contradictions, data gaps, and testing needs nationwide.

As SimpleWater gathers feedback from this initial release, the team will roll-out additional layers with finer resolution data, including county and school-specific results.

What Is the Lead in Schools Report Card?

This project is a free web application for evaluating school-related lead-in-water policies and actions. For the most part, states are not clearly testing and reporting lead contamination, and as a result there may be millions of children exposed to unsafe lead in drinking water. SimpleWater has also curated a list of free resources for school administrators, facility managers, district boards and concerned parents in each state.

Lessons Learned?

In short, good information about lead in school water is too hard to find. A litany of policy contradictions, testing requirements and data reporting gaps, cast doubt upon the overall integrity of our schools’ environmental health infrastructure.

The top findings are:

  • There is no Federal requirement for schools to test water for lead.
  • About half of U.S. states have proposed or passed legislation related to lead in school water, fewer than half have funded such legislation.
  • Faucet fixtures and on-premise plumbing is not systematically monitored in most states, despite being a primary exposure pathway.
  • Daycare facilities provide no systematic lead testing, despite serving children who are most vulnerable to impacts from lead.
Background

Lead in drinking water can lower a child’s IQ, negatively impact behavior, and result in lifelong disabilities. Lead exposure is not a problem limited to cities like Flint or Newark.

About SimpleWater and Tap Score

Based in Berkeley, California, SimpleWater owns and operates the Tap Score Water Testing service. Tap Score is the largest residential water testing service in the United States, providing millions of homes and businesses with easy access to state-of-the-art environmental lab testing, health reporting and treatment.

Learn about methods to reduce lead in drinking water:

Webinar: How to Reduce Lead in School Drinking Water

How to Deal with Lead in Your City’s Drinking Water

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EfficientGov is an independent information service providing innovative solutions to fiscal and operational challenges facing cities and towns around the world.