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Environment Montana
NPR - Mountain West News Bureau
Stephanie Daniel

The Environmental Protection Agency is making $20 million available for states and tribes to voluntarily test drinking water for lead at schools and childcare facilities.
Skye Borden, state director ofEnvironment Montana , said it's important for educational institutions to test for the chemical, which is especially harmful to children. They also need to report the results.

"I think it's important for parents, teachers and students to be able to easily access information about the water quality in their school," she said.

Borden's group contributed to a recent report on school drinking water across the country including in Montana, Colorado and Utah. It concluded that the problem is more pervasive than previously thought.

"One thing that we do see, that can be an issue in western towns, particularly ones with a legacy of mining. The more acidic your water is, the more likely you are to have leeching from lead pipes," said Borden.

To participate in the grant program, states must submit a letter of intent to the EPA by January 11, 2019.