Report: When Reopening Schools, Don’t Forget About Lead

The Environmental Working Group reported this week that schools may want to test their water for lead and bacteria before reopening this fall. Many school buildings shut down in the spring due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and water has sat in pipes for months. This stagnant water, if not flushed, could prove a health risk for children and staff.

The report emphasized that a single test may not reveal the extent of the problem. If plumbing systems are not brought back online properly, it could take several months of regular water use to reduce dangerous levels of lead. Currently, only 15 states and the District of Columbia test their school’s water for contamination. Lead can damage the brain and nervous system, and contribute to developmental and learning problems.

In order to clear schools of lead contamination, the Environmental Science, Policy and Research Institute noted that there must be a coordinated effort to flush building plumbing and fixtures, replacing stagnant water with fresh supplies.

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