National report grades states for its policies addressing lead in water at schools

WASHINGTON D.C. — The water running through the pipes and plumbing in your child’s school may have some lead in it.

That’s according to a new nationwide report from the Environment America Research and Policy Center. As part of their research, the organization graded every state on their current regulations. It shows a majority of states nationwide received a failing grade for its policies addressing lead in the water at schools.

This report found as schools test their water, they’re discovering widespread lead contamination.

John Rumpler with Environment America Research and Policy Center said this is concerning because lead is very toxic and it can be damaging to kids.

“It’s not that schools’ water is the only way that kids are affected from lead. But it is a clearly preventable way that is in the public domain of responsibility,” said Rumpler. “This is where families send their kids and put their kids in the public trust and say, we are trusting you to ensure that our kids have a safe, healthy environment for learning - the least they should expect is that the water is safe for their kids to drink.”

The report found some schools are fixing taps following a positive test for lead concentration in the water.

But researchers say lead levels in water can also vary which means it’s possible to miss contamination even with proper sampling.

Rumpler believes schools should take more proactive steps to prevent exposure. This includes replacing all taps used for drinking or cooking with filters certified to remove lead.

“Replacing lead bearing parts over time so that we’re actually getting the lead out of our schools’ water delivery systems, especially where there are these lead service lines. These toxic pipes we’ve heard about, there are literally millions of them across the country,” he said.

Rumpler said there’s also federal funding available for schools through the American Rescue Plan. Additionally, Congress approved more than $55 billion to replace lead pipes and lines as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

You can view the report and recommendations here: