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Lead in Drinking Water - Information for Schools and Day Cares


Information for Schools and Day Care Centers

Exposure to lead is a significant health concern, especially for young children and infants whose growing bodies tend to absorb  more lead than the average adult. Drinking water is one possible source of lead exposure. Infants whose diets consist mainly of liquid can get 40 - 60% of their lead exposure from water. Some drinking water pipes, taps, solder and other plumbing components contain lead. Lead in the plumbing may leach into water and pose a health risk when consumed.

Testing water in schools and day care facilities is important because children spend a significant portion of their days in these facilities, and likely consume water while there. The longer water remains in contact with leaded plumbing, the more opportunity exists for lead to leach into water. As a result, facilities with on again/off again water use patterns, such as schools and day care facilities, may have elevated lead concentrations in the water. EPA recommends that action be taken at a specific outlet when the lead concentration is over 20 parts per billion (ppb).

Lead comes from the plumbing.

Even though water delivered from the community's public water supply must meet EPA standards for lead, a building may still have too much lead in the drinking water because of lead and lead-containing plumbing materials and water use patterns. Testing the water at each outlet is the only sure way to find out if the water contains too much lead (over 20 ppb).

Testing for lead at a school or day care.

EPA strongly encourages schools and day care facilities to test the water for lead, particularly if food, drinks, and/or formula are prepared on-site. Each outlet should be tested separately for lead.

*For more information on testing, including guidance for developing a sampling program and information on remedies, click here to go to EPA's web site.