Posts Tagged: drinking water
Despite increasing awareness of the issue of lead in drinking water, UC Nutrition Policy Institute and Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that many students in the U.S. attend public schools in states where not all taps are tested for lead, according to reports in various media outlets including The Guardian, NBC News and The Nation.
“All kids, no matter where they live, should have access to safe drinking water in school,” said Angie Cradock of Harvard's Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity, who led the study team. “Drinking water is important for helping kids grow up healthy, and water should be safe to drink.”
The researchers found that there is no uniformity in states' approaches to create and oversee programs to test for elevated lead in school drinking water. When collected, data are not regularly made available to guide action to reduce potential exposure to lead. About half of the country's students are at public schools in states that don't have programs or requirements to test drinking water in those schools.
Of the 24 states (plus Washington, D.C.) with a statewide program to test school drinking water for lead, only 12 states had data that could be analyzed by the research team. In these 12 states, 44 percent of all schools had at least one tap that tested higher than their state's threshold for action, and 12 percent of all samples had a lead concentration higher than the state's action level. The report also describes the features of statewide initiatives in operation between Jan. 1, 2016, and Feb. 28, 2018, in 24 states and the District of Columbia to conduct testing for lead in school drinking water.
For more information, see the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health website.
Congress and health groups are looking at a provision of a 2010 child nutrition law to get schools to test their water, and considering how to help schools pay for it.
The Politico reporter spoke to Christina Hecht, a senior policy adviser at the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute. The institute is the hub for the National Drinking Water Alliance, a network of organizations and individuals across the country working to ensure that American children can drink safe water in the places where they live, learn and play.
Hecht pointed out that the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires schools to provide potable water during meal times. The act also says that child care facilities that participate in federal meals programs must give kids access to drinkable water throughout the day.
Because of this wording in the law, USDA could issue a guidance requiring schools to test their water to be sure it is potable.
"The beauty of this approach is that the language is there ... the means for oversight is there," Hecht said. "When you look at Flint, where does the buck stop? When you look at schools and child care, we've identified where the buck stops."
The cost to test water at schools nationwide is estimated to be about $7.6 million. For adult and child-care sites it would be about $14 million. In all, the expenditure works out to about 40 cents per child.
"We at the Nutrition Policy Institute encourage Congress to appropriate funds for tap water testing in American schools, and remediation where necessary," Hecht said.