As parents we are concerned that our children have all they need for school. We go to the store with our list of supplies in hand that was provided by this year’s teachers. Stand in line with screaming children, irritated and tired parents. But we get through it.
There is an assumption that the school is safe. That the air and drinking water will not harm the children but rather foster a healthy environment to learn and play.
But what if that is wrong? I asked a friend recently if their children’s school tested the water for lead. She said I received a letter from the school that said the water was safe, so I’m feeling pretty good.
As it turns out the school used the testing results for the city water as evidence of safety. Just because the water leaves the city treatment plant clean and safe does not ensure that when it comes out of the faucet at school it’s clean. So many people are duped by this assertion of safety.
Where the water moves from the city service line into the school feeder line(s) those lines could be made of lead and contaminate the water. Or, inside the school plumbing could be lead pipes, lead solder, or other lead related plumbing fixtures.
So, to find out if your child’s school water is safe from lead you need to test every faucet. Has your school conducted that level of testing? Probably not. It’s easy to do and yes it costs money but far less than it would cost if children were exposed and became sick.
No level of lead is exposure is safe for children. We need to protect our children from lead that can cause learning delays, especially in their schools.
Children are required to attend school, but schools aren’t required to test that their water is safe for children to drink! It is outrageous that in a country like the United States there is no federal law that requires schools to test the quality of their water at each discharge location.
That’s why we need a national bill that requires schools to test their water and protect the health of our children where they are trying to learn. Senator Duckworth (IL) has proposed a bill that would require schools to test their water, share results with communities, and fund projects that replace lead pipes or provide filters.
The Get the Lead Out of Schools Act mandates all schools to test for lead in their water and provides action grants to fix any contamination. Protect our children—contact your federal senators and make sure they support the Get the Lead Out of Schools Act when it goes to the Senate Floor.
By Gregory Kolen II. Environmental justice is an issue that affects everyone, but those who bear the brunt of it are often the most vulnerable