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Lead in Drinking Water - Information for Schools and Daycares

Information for Schools and Daycare 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 daycare 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 daycare facilities, may have elevated lead concentrations in the water. EPA recommends that action be taken at a specific outlet when the lead concentration is elevated.

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.

Testing for Lead at a School or Daycare

EPA strongly encourages schools and daycare 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.

The PA Department of Education (PDE) has also created a web site to provide information about lead testing in schools, click here to go to PDE's web site.