Missoula, MT – With “back to school” in full swing this week, Environment Montana today offered a new toolkit to help parents, teachers, and administrators Get the Lead Out of schools’ drinking water. Citing a lack of accurate information on lead contamination in water and how schools should prevent it, the group is encouraging parents and teachers to put the new toolkit on their “back to school” reading list.
“Our kids deserve safe drinking water at school,” said Environment Montana director Skye Borden. “We want to give parents, teachers, and school administrators the tools they need to ‘get the lead out.’”
More and more schools are finding lead in their water. In Utah, for example, a recent study found lead in 90% of the schools tested.
Moreover, such confirmed cases of lead-laced water are likely just the tip of the iceberg. As noted in the toolkit, most schools built before 2014 have plumbing and/or fixtures that can leach lead into drinking water. And at some older schools, the service lines that bring water from the mains in the street into buildings are made entirely of lead.
“I know many parents who had a new water bottle on their ‘back to school’ shopping list,” said Livingston mom Michelle Uberuaga. “What about the water that goes in that bottle? We’ve got to make sure our kids have safe drinking water at school.”
Environment Montana’s toolkit includes a factsheet, a video, sample materials to press for action, and links to additional resources, especially on technical questions like proper testing.
Lead is a potent neurotoxin that affects the way children learn, grow, and behave. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality recommends regular voluntary testing for lead to ensure that school water sources are safe.
School districts are largely left to address lead contamination on their own, as current state law does little to prevent children’s drinking water from becoming laced with lead at school. In Montana, only schools that serve as their own utility are required to test for lead. The vast majority of schools in the state have never tested at all.
“No parent should have to worry about their child drinking water with lead,” said Skye Borden. “We have got to do better. We owe it to our kids.”
“I’m recommending this Get the Lead Out toolkit to parents,” said Michelle Uberuaga. “It’s short and gives you concrete tools to work with your school and ensure safe drinking water for our children.”
Environment Montana Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our water, air and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. www.environmentmontanacenter.org