Lead in School Drinking Water FAQ
Lead in schools is a major health risk. Lead in schools and lead in school drinking water has been a problem for decades and Texas leaders have consistently failed to act. Here we try to answer some common questions about why lead is so dangerous.
Why is lead such a health threat?
Lead is persistent, and it can bioaccumulate in the body over time.
How is lead regulated and drinking water protected?
Lead levels in drinking water are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The SDWA was originally passed by Congress in 1974 to protect public health by regulating the nation’s public drinking water supply.
The SDWA authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against both naturally-occurring and man-made contaminants that may be found in drinking water
The SDWA requires EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur with an adequate margin of safety.
These non-enforceable health goals, based solely on possible health risks, are called maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs). EPA has set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at zero because lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels.
The SDWA gives the EPA the authority to regulate the usage of rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground-water wells. However, the SDWA does not regulate private wells that serve fewer than 25 individuals.
Why is lead in school water supplies?
When it comes to school districts and school water supplies, the EPA estimates approximately 8,000 schools and childcare facilities maintain their own water supply and be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).
But currently, approximately 98,000 public schools and 500,000 childcare facilities are unregulated under the SDWA.
These unregulated schools and childcare facilities may or may not be conducting voluntary drinking water quality testing.
In Texas, the various public water systems employ measures to ensure the water is safe to drink.
However, lead can still leach into a school’s drinking water from plumbing materials and fixtures within the school and move through the school’s water-distribution system.
Sampling for lead is not required for schools serviced by a public water system.
Texas’ environmental regulating agency — The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality — offers free workshops to help schools prevent lead in their drinking water.
For additional assistance, call the TCEQ’s lead and copper program at 512-239-4691.
What can I do about it?
If you are reading this, you might have already signed our petition calling on the state to take action. Last legislative cycle, a bill was introduced that would address these issues but it died in committee.
You can share this petition with your friends and we’ll help make sure all of our voices are heard.