While it’s still actively summer in my neck-of-the-woods, the local stores are stuffed to the gills with notebooks, colorful backpacks, and superhero kid t-shirts: a sure sign that the school year is right around the corner. Your children probably aren’t focusing on the details of how to keep healthy during their first week, but are you? Recently the Portland, Oregon school district made a point to begin testing for lead in elementary schools. Shockingly, there was a fairly high amount of lead in certain water fountains.
Lead in Water Fountains
A lot of parents panicked when they heard that there was lead in the water fountains in their children’s schools. “It’s worse than Flint,” some parents said. Is it? While no level of lead in the water is safe, most of the water fountains that have found high levels of lead are unused, and have been unused for many years. It’s the ones that are in the back of the science classroom that hasn’t been flushed for 5 years, or are used seldomly. Water sitting there, never flushing through the system, means that lead has leached into this sitting water. In the Portland Oregon school district, water fountains that were used often and daily did not have detectable amounts of lead in the water.
Okay, But any lead is bad.
It’s true though that any amount of lead in water is bad–so while you’re out shopping for pencils and binders, have your kids pick out their favorite reusable water bottle. It’s an extra few dollars, yes, but it’s also 1. your peace of mind and 2. your child’s health. Every evening, have your kids fill up their new water bottles with filtered tap water, and stick it in the fridge for the next day. Over the past ten years, the reusable water bottle market has skyrocketed, so there is a huge selection to choose from–different colors, different sizes and designs, and different materials. On top of protecting your child from potential (while rare) lead in their water, you’re also encouraging them to stay hydrated throughout the day.
If you’re concerned about the water in your children’s school, you can send a sample of it to the EPA. In the mean time, purchase a re-usable water bottle for your child’s school year.