Even After Flint Crisis, Most Public Schools Aren’t Testing For Lead In The Water
Despite the water crisis in Flint Michigan, many public schools across the nation aren’t testing the water for lead levels. This is possibly detrimental to students; lead can cause death, kill brain cells, slow growth and development from small amounts of exposure, and even cause infertility from prolonged exposure.
According to new studies by the Government Accountability Office, only 43% of school districts tested their schools’ water for lead levels between 2016 and 2017. The remaining 37% of districts that did perform the test reportedly discovered lead in the water.
This comes on the heels of the Flint, Michigan water crisis in 2014 and 2015, though the issues regarding water security in the area still haven’t been solved. The crisis affected an estimated 100,000 residents.
According to the Huffington Post, these issues persist in public schools due to the lack of Federal regulation on water testing. Only eight states require mandatory water testing, while an additional 13 state governments voluntarily help the schools perform the testing.
A regular school alarm requires the time of two officers to investigate an issue; for public schools in the United States, the alarm bell hasn’t yet been rung.
While studies are still in the works regarding the effect of lead poisoning on children, issues regarding lead poisoning on fertility have been revealed in a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
In their research, “Toxic Truth: Lead and Fertility,” an fertility rates in Flint, Michigan dropped by 12 percent. Fetal deaths also increased by 58% at the peak of the city’s water contamination.
This study also points out the reliance Americans have on lead-based products. Between lead paints, pipes, gasoline products, and plumbing, this option is an affordable option that hasn’t been shaken.
When water damage can cost an estimated $2,386 to repair, the cost of replacing lead pipes is an expensive venture.
For now, the federal threshold for lead in the household is 15 parts per billion (ppb). For now, Washington, D.C. has created a new law only allows 5 ppb of lead in their public schools’ drinking water.
Even small doses of lead can damage a child; in response, certain groups and activists have campaigned for changes in water regulation. The Campaign for Lead Free Water is a group that opposes the new law in Washington, D.C. public schools.
The only way to guarantee lead doesn’t get into drinking water is to remove lead plumbing altogether. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose a revision to the Safe Drinking Water Act, but it is unknown if the EPA is prioritizing the change.