Exploris Middle School Students Test Their School Drinking Water For Lead

Exploris Middle School students in Raleigh N.C. surveyed fourteen water fountains for lead in the water using EPA approved meters we loan for free.  (You can borrow them by clicking here.)

The students carefully documented every step in their process with photographs of where samples were taken, when, and the resulting meter results.  You can see their impressive report here.

According to Education Week magazine, there are over 100,000 K-12 school buildings in the United States.  About half are over 44 years old and roughly one-third of them have serious plumbing issues, including those that add lead to drinking and cooking water.[1]  The last time serious updates to federal regulations governing new plumbing installations were made was roughly 30 years ago – long before the lessons of Flint Michigan were learned![2]

If half our schools are over 44 years old and our current lead levels were set 31 years ago, there is potential for unsafe levels of lead to be present in a majority of our schools. You can find out about a number of issues involved in lead in school drinking water by visiting our website www.thepollutiondetectives.org (Look at the bottom right box.)

You may be shocked to learn that there are no federal regulations requiring schools to test their water for lead or other pollutants and that only six states require testing.

Many school officials are reticent to test their school’s drinking water because they fear they will not have the money to fix the problem.

In our experience from testing schools, the school plumbing is usually lead-free. The problem mainly comes from the drinking fountain itself.   An elementary school has about eight fountains. Our experience shows that about one in eight should be replaced for a cost of around $1,500, a small price for a school to pay to protect the children from lifelong reduction in children’s IQ or impulse control.

Please reach out to us and request a loan of our simple-to-use meters – if we work together, we can teach and empower a new generation of students how to protect themselves and their communities from lead in drinking water.

Authored by Francis Koster Ed. D.