Children in our public schools are at risk–and not just in Flint, Michigan
While alarming, the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan is not a “one-off” example of lead poisoning through drinking water. Lead poisoning due to contaminated drinking water is a very real problem that continues to persist throughout the United States. It affects homes, businesses, and schools–meaning that our children are directly impacted in nearly all realms of their lives. In fact, recent reports are flagging public schools all across the nation for unhealthy levels of lead, as it becomes increasingly obvious that aging infrastructure threatens even the youngest among us–posing a substantial public health danger.
Data from the EPA shows that only nine states currently report lead levels that do not violate drinking water standards–with the other 41 states reporting Action Level Exceedances (ALEs) of lead within the last three years.
Why is Lead So Harmful to Children?
Even small levels of lead can cause serious health problems– but just how small?
Any amount, potentially.
Under the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA outlined maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs) for known contaminants in drinking water before adverse health effects are likely to occur. Lead’s MCLG is zero.
Available science demonstrates that there is NO SAFE LEVEL OF LEAD EXPOSURE for any individual. However, children are particularly at risk for serious adverse health effects because they are still developing critical brain and bodily functions. Lead can slowly build up in the body over time without any detectable symptoms . It is only once high amounts of the metalloid have accumulated in the body that symptoms crop up. This makes it difficult for parents and doctors to see if children are subject to long-term lead poisoning until they have consumed dangerous amounts.
Symptoms of lead poisoning in children include:
- Learning issues
- Developmental delays
- Weight loss
- Appetite loss
- Irritability and fatigue
- Abdominal discomfort
- Hearing loss
Such severe health risks from lead poisoning are all the more frightening as more and more schools reveal that their drinking water has lead concentrations above the MCLG of zero.
Lead Threatens Schools Across America
Lead primarily threatens school drinking water supplies through corrosion due to aging infrastructure. Old lead in pipes, fixtures, and solder can react with acidic or low-mineral level water to the point where it dissolves and enters into the water supply.
More than 400 of the approximately 7,000 American schools subject to the Lead and Copper Rule have reported heightened lead levels from 2012 into 2015, according to the EPA. This rule requires water systems to control the corrosivity of water, as well as collect tap water samples. If more than 10% of the samples exceed 15 ppb, the systems are required to take additional action.
While U.S. public schools have their own battle to fight, you can help ensure that your children are safe in their own home with SimpleWater’s Tap Score home water test. Our test checks for lead, as well as over 100 other contaminants in your well or municipal water, and ultimately provides you with a complete, easy-to-understand water report with actionable, personalized recommendations.