BOSTON – With “back to school” in full swing this week, Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund today are offering a free toolkit to Get the Lead Out of schools’ drinking water. The groups aim to help parents, teachers and school administrators grapple with this serious health threat facing our children.
“Lead is a potent neurotoxin, affecting the way our kids learn, grow and behave,” said John Rumpler, clean water program director for Environment America Research & Policy Center. “Our toolkit is designed to help parents, teachers and administrators take all the necessary steps to get the lead out.”
School water lead contamination is a nationwide problem. In a growing number of states -- including Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas and Washington -- newly available testing data reveal a high percentage of schools with lead-laced drinking water.
Moreover, currently documented cases of lead contamination are likely just the tip of the iceberg. As noted in the toolkit, most schools have fountains, solder or other metal items that can leach lead into drinking water.
“Many parents had a new water bottle on their ‘back to school’ shopping list,” Rumpler said. “Let’s make sure the water that’s going into those bottles is safe to drink.”
The toolkit includes a factsheet, video, sample call-to-action materials and links to additional resources. Notably, the toolkit answers technical questions such as how to conduct proper testing.
As documented in an Environment America Research & Policy Center report earlier this year, state and federal regulations do not require schools to take necessary steps to prevent drinking water from becoming contaminated with lead. As a result, it is falling on parents to press for action at the local level.
“Ensuring safe drinking water at school is not always an easy homework assignment,” said Yana Kucher, Toxics Program Chair at USPIRG Education Fund. “Our toolkit will help parents demand action to protect their children’s health.”
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Environment America Research & Policy Center works to protect clean water, clean air, and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.