School Water Contains Excess Lead Levels, New Study Reveals

Joseph Thomas PhotographyShutterstock

There is a rising concern for the safety of school children after a recent study revealed the presence of excessive amounts of lead and copper in school water supplies across the United States.

According to a study released by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health last week, a wealth of schools across the nation have an excess amount of lead in their water. The study goes on to reveal this is something most schools are unaware of as the water supply has not been tested for it.

According to NBC, there are no laws (federal or state) that require the testing of water for lead. In fact, half of the school-age children in the U.S. attend classes in states that do not have any programs in place for testing drinking water at all.

Harvard’s Prevention Research Center says it could create a very real probability that our children will be exposed to lead in the water they consume during school hours.

Angie Cradock, from Harvard’s Prevention Research Center’s division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, has been very outspoken about the need for clean, safe drinking water in schools nationwide.

“All kids, no matter where they live, should have access to safe drinking water in school. Drinking water is important for helping kids grow up healthy, and water should be safe to drink,” she insists.

The recent study took a look at the 24 states that currently have no testing protocol in place. Only 12 of these states provided results that could be used in the research. Of those samples, 44 percent of the schools had at least one sample exceeding levels allowed by local standards. Another 12 percent also had “higher than recommended” levels of lead.

While most of the research uses the phrase “higher than recommended,” many experts insist there is no “safe” level of lead that should be consumed.

Lead is known to cause irreversible brain damage, high blood pressure, and memory loss fatigue in both children and adults.

The Food and Drug Administration says that clean bottled water should contain less than five parts per billion when it comes to lead levels.

Lead can find its way into a school’s water system in one of two ways: either it makes its way into the water through the lead plumbing pipes and fixtures or it slowly makes its way into the water supply based on environmental circumstances.

“Most schools (89 percent) are not themselves subject to enforceable federal drinking water standards, including testing for lead, because they obtain their water from a public water supplier, typically a water district or a water utility company,” researchers wrote in the study.

Currently, only 52 percent of states provide funding for the testing programs.

“More states should adopt programs to lower the lead content of school drinking water,” the researchers penned in the study’s conclusion.