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Lead in School Drinking Water

What you need to know about Lead in School Drinking Water

By now we are all familiar with how serious water contamination is. In areas all over the US, we're seeing the deterioration of public water systems that results in harmful levels of lead in drinking water. Below is a brief synopsis of why high lead levels are such a big problem, how lead levels are regulated in public water systems, and how you and your child's school can be proactive ensuring that their drinking water is safe to drink.

Why are High Lead Levels in Water so Detrimental to Children?

According to the Environmental Protect Agency (EPA), "A dose of lead that would have little effect on an adult can have a significant effect on a child. In children, low levels of 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."

How are Lead Levels in Drinking Water Regulated?

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is a federal law passed by Congress in 1974 that helps to ensure safe drinking water for the public. The SDWA applies to each and every Public Water System (PWS) in the United States. The SDWA has Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) that public water systems cannot exceed.

Every PWS must submit periodic water monitoring reports to the EPA. These water samples have to be analyzed by EPA-approved testing laboratories that are either certified by the EPA, or state agencies. In the event that a PWS water sample has exceeded MCLs, then that PWS must inform the public about the health risk either immediately, or up to 30 days of the violation, dependent on the health risk associated with the contaminant.

Be Proactive Ensuring Your Child's Drinking Water is Safe to Drink

So how can you ensure that the water that your child is exposed to is safe? The first step is to make sure that the water coming into your home is safe to drink. If you are connected to a PWS, you can ask your water utility company for a copy of their annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). Or if your water comes from a well or private water supply, you can also check with your health department for contamination concerns in your area. Then, have your water tested for lead, since internal plumbing materials may contain lead, which cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted.

Drinking Fountain Filter IndicatorThen, make sure that your child's school or child care facility has clean drinking water as well. One way schools can ensure that students are drinking safe water is by installing filtered drinking fountains. The SDWA now requires that all drinking fountains, water coolers, and bottle fillers are lead-free. Many water fountains are designed specifically to ensure proper filtration. Many Elkay bottle fillers have a filter monitor, which tells users when a filter is in the unit and working properly. This is indicated by a green LED light, when the filter needs to be changed a yellow LED lights up, and when the unit needs a new filter, a red LED lights up.

Other units, like the Surface Mount Brita Hydration Station and the Recessed Mount Brita Hydration Station, has an integral function that halts water use when filter life is extinguished. Brita bottle filling stations are ideal in areas where water quality is sub-par since users can only procure water from them when that water is sufficiently filtered.

All of the drinking fountain fixtures sold on are lead-free, and many of them also have third-party ANSI-accredited certifications ensuring the unit meets other lead-free requirements. Learn more about our drinking fountain solutions by speaking to one of our industry trained product experts. We have supplied many school districts with water solutions. Read another article about the importance of providing students with safe drinking water here: Improve Student Access to Drinking Water in Your School or view our Wall Mounted Drinking Fountain options.