We send our kids off to school every day and for the most part we assume that they will be safe. But recent studies have shown that the very places we trust with our children may actually be poisoning them with lead contaminated drinking water. Those drinking water stations or water fountains where kids love to congregate can actually be a hidden source of danger to our children's health.
Recently, during a three-month investigation, news reports found that thousands of children could be ingesting water from drinking water stations with unsafe levels of lead and that often school district officials may have known about the problem for years.
The investigation began when reporters learned from concerned parents that teachers were telling the children not to drink the water. A number of parents pushed the school district to test the water and what they found was pretty shocking.
One drinking water station was found to have more than seven times the level of what the Environmental Protection Agency says is a safe level of lead. When sampling was done at 30 other schools it was found that nine out of 30 schools tested, or 30 percent, had some fountains with unsafe levels of lead.
According to US EPA standards, drinking water is unsafe if it has 15 parts per billion of lead or more. One fountain tested had 32 parts per billion. That's more than double the unsafe levels of lead. Three of six drinking water stations tested had above the safe level and one school's entire kindergarten area had even higher level of lead-laced water.
At one school the tap water in the nurse's office, used to give kids water to take medicines, was tested and shown to have more than two and a half times the EPA acceptable levels of lead.
These are lead levels that could have serious effects on our children. Even low levels of lead exposure in young children can cause persistent nervous system damage, low IQ, attention deficit disorder and a number of other learning and behavioral problems. But a more serious fact to consider is that the very high levels of lead pollution, like those found at some school drinking water stations, can cause mental retardation, coma, convulsions, and even death.
In recent years a number of tragic events have shown us that our schools are not always as safe as we had thought and we can no longer take for granted the fact that children are not poisoned by lead contaminated drinking water. That this is a problem that can actually be easily remedied within any school district by filtration systems, is a tragedy within itself. Parents have a right to feel secure in knowing that when their children are laughing and jostling around that drinking water station, the water they are drinking is safe for consumption.
Perhaps the school districts need to join the millions of families that have bought water filtration systems before our children feel the consequences.