Over the past two years, the tragedy of Flint, Michigan has stunned the nation. We watched the drinking water of an entire city become contaminated with lead. And now we know this toxic threat extends well beyond Flint to communities across the country. In fact, test results now show that lead is even contaminating drinking water in schools and pre-schools — flowing from thousands of fountains and faucets where our kids drink water every day.

Lead is highly toxic, especially for children

A potent neurotoxin, lead affects how our children learn, grow, and behave. According to the EPA,"In children, low levels of [lead] exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells." In fact, medical researchers estimate that more than 24 million children in America will lose IQ points due to low levels of lead.

Lead in the drinking water at school 

Even the limited available data shows drinking water laced with lead at schools and early childhood programs across the country.

The threat of lead in schools’ water affects not only big cities but also suburban and rural communities. Tests have documented lead-tainted water in schools Cherry Hill, NJ, Bergen County, NJYarmouth, ME, and several other school districts in upstate New York, and suburban communities in Illinois.

Sometimes, the levels of lead are exceedingly high. For example, one drinking water fountain at a Montessori school in Cleveland had 1,560 parts per billion. A school in the Chicago suburbs had lead-water concentrations at 212 times the federal standard. Leicester Memorial Elementary in Massachusetts had a tap that tested at 22,400 ppb.

 

A pervasive threat to our children’s health

In all likelihood, these confirmed cases of lead in schools’ water are just the tip of the iceberg. Most schools have at least some lead in their pipes, plumbing, or fixtures. And where there is lead, there is risk of contamination. 

Massachusetts is one of the few states to test extensively and publish all results showing any level of lead in schools’ water. The results are shocking: nearly half of the tests (49.7 percent) conducted at Bay State schools so far have found some level of lead in the water, according to data published by the state as of January 6, 2017.  

Time to Get the Lead Out

Given these facts, the only way to ensure safe drinking water for our children is simply to “get the lead out” of our schools and pre-schools. This involves proactively removing lead-bearing parts from schools’ drinking water systems — from service lines to faucets and fixtures —and installing filters certified to remove lead at every tap used for drinking or cooking.

What you can do 

Contact your school and ask whether it has lead pipes or plumbing. Ask if the water has been tested for lead and to see all the results. Sometimes schools only report levels of lead in water above 15 parts per billion, but there is no safe level of lead in drinking water, especially for our children. 

In addition, we’re calling on all states to “get the lead out” of schools drinking water. Please urge your governor to take strong action to protect our children’s health. Take action. 

Clean Water Updates

News Release | Environment Minnesota

EPA Proposes Biggest Step for Clean Water in a Decade

Today, in the biggest step forward for clean water in more than a decade, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act that leave 51% of Minnesota’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands at risk of unchecked pollution and development.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Guest Blog: Family Memories at Lake Ballantyne

Lucas Melby is from Mankato, Minnesota and is currently studying political science at Hamline University. His favorite things to do outdoors include camping with his family, biking on the trails around Mankato, and, of course, going to the many lakes of Minnesota.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Guest Blog -- Along the Blue Earth and Minnesota Rivers

I have had a first-hand view of the Minnesota River since coming to Minnesota State University, located at the bend in the river at Mankato. It was a clear river in pre-settler times and had many wetlands to mitigate flooding. Since those times, though, the area has been converted into an intensive agricultural landscape and economy. We benefit financially from the crops grown in the region, but also have the negative consequences of poor stewardship of the lands and waters.

> Keep Reading
Headline

PolyMet mine debate has competing visions for Up North

More than 2,000 people from across the state packed the RiverCentre for the third and final public hearing on the PolyMet Mining Corporation’s proposal for a $650 million open pit mine near Babbitt, Minn.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post

Green With… Algae? Guest Blog by Michael Schmidt

Have you ever seen a lake that’s green? The iconic photos of Minnesota’s lakes always show clear blue water, but in reality we aren’t so lucky. Even here, where everyone loves their local lake (or several lakes!) and rivers, we experience water quality problems. The most visible is often algae.

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed