There’s no federal law requiring that school districts test water for lead and other potentially harmful contaminants. While this might be surprising for many parents to learn, it means there is one more aspect of your child’s school you should look into before enrolling them. And if you already have children in school, it’s something you’ll want to learn more about and potentially bring to your administrators’ attention.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) mandates water standards at the federal level, but that doesn’t mean that the same water that was tested as safe when leaving the water treatment center is the same water that arrives in schools, cafeterias, and day care facilities. Factors like aging plumbing and other inconsistencies in the infrastructure can compromise water quality after treatment. This is especially problematic and common in older buildings and schools that haven’t been upgraded in the recent past. Rural schools are also at particular risk for water contamination, as they are more likely to rely on well water.
For most parents of school-age children, simply learning more about their local school’s water testing protocols and results can ease most worries about drinking water in school.
Safe Drinking Water In Schools
It should go without saying that most of us want to keep our children safe and healthy, but there’s an even more important factor to considering the water quality in our schools — children are more susceptible to contaminants in water. Lead in school drinking water, for example, can be especially detrimental for kids to consume. It builds up in the body over time, so the smaller the children, the more potential there is for more serious damage. Lead causes a variety of developmental problems from behavior and learning problems and delayed growth to serious neurological disorders. In some cases, lead exposure in children can even be fatal. Kids also tend to drink more water than adults to hydrate their growing bodies, and a lot of that hydration takes place at school or day care where many kids spend the bulk of their time.
Contaminant and Lead Testing in Schools
So, how can you find out about the water quality at your local school or daycare? The best way to find out how often your child’s school tests its water, and the current water quality at the facility, is to reach out to the school district. You can find some information online, like local county water quality reports, but you won’t know the specifics without contacting the school system directly. That’s because the water quality reported by the municipal water board could be very different than the water that comes out of the tap or drinking water fountain at your child’s school.
A report from the Environment America Research & Policy Center found a concerning “pattern of widespread contamination of drinking water” at schools nationwide, and new regulations have been introduced to address the issue. As a result, we recommend parents confirm with local schools that water has been tested to ensure the safety and well being of all students.
If you have any other questions about water quality in schools, and how to find out more about your local water in schools policy, your local Culligan can help.
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