Pediatricians, teachers and water quality experts say more needs to be done to protect school kids from exposure to high lead levels at the water fountain.
This school year, a new Minnesota law went into effect requiring public and charter schools to approve a lead water testing plan, conduct drinking water tests in the next five years and share results with parents.
“The law was a really important step,” said Timothy Schaefer, state director at Environment Minnesota. “Getting something on the books that schools have to test was a huge victory. But the problem is the specifics are important.”
Minnesota will soon begin discussions at the capital trying to add more details to the state law and department policies, including lowering the action point for schools to take action.
School districts have discretion to set their own action level, most following the Environmental Protection Agency and Minnesota Department of Health’s suggestion action on taps above 20 (ppb) of lead in testing plans reviewed by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
"We need to change these standards to keep children safe," said Dr. Jennifer Lowery, a toxicologist with the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Lowery said Minnesota and other states should ensure school fountains don’t exceed lead levels of one ppb.
"What I would recommend and state to lawmakers, is that standards have not caught up to what the science show," Lowery said.
Illinois, Michigan, Washington DC use a lower level of 5 ppb, and Health Canada has proposed that level according to online data. California recently passed a law setting the action level for schools at 15 ppb, with a state database of results and requirments if elevated lead is detected. […]