Lead-Free Schools

We’re working to ensure every single child in Washington has access to lead-free drinking water at school. (Photo: Fountain - jasongillman via pixabay CC0 Public Domain)

Every single child in Washington should have access to lead-free drinking water at school.

Events like the Flint water crisis have shocked people across the country and put a national spotlight on the problem of lead in drinking water. Yet despite this, Washington has been slow to ensure all children at school are fully protected from this danger. 

Lead is a highly toxic heavy metal that impairs how kids learn, grow, and behave. Even low levels of lead exposure can permanently damage children's brains, kidneys, and overall health. Put simply, there is no safe level of lead in water.

But in Washington, many school buildings were built using lead pipes and plumbing, back when we didn’t fully understand the danger. 

Now we do, and have banned the use of lead in new pipes and plumbing. But in the many schools which still have these old lead pipes or fixtures, lead can leach into the water that kids drink from fountains or bathroom sinks.

Our children shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of bad decisions we made decades ago — that’s just not a trade-off we should be willing to make.

Unfortunately, Washington schools aren’t required to perform regular and comprehensive tests for lead in drinking water, or to replace the pipes if there’s a threat of lead exposure to our kids. 

This isn’t right. Our children deserve better than to have their health and safety put in jeopardy when they take a drink of water at school.

That’s why WashPIRG is calling on the state legislature to ensure every single child in Washington has access to lead-free drinking water at school. We are calling for mandatory testing, public results, and funding set aside to fix the problems where they exist. 

It's hard to imagine a more fundamental public health protection for our kids, and they depend on us to help keep them safe. Help us make sure we can live up to this promise as parents, as a community, and as Washingtonians.

Issue updates

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Statement: Passing the “Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act” is a crucial step to protect U.S. children

In an effort to protect young Americans from the temptations that can lead to a life-long struggle with tobacco addiction, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on Friday on a bill that would restrict tobacco sales and marketing.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Washington, WashPIRG | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Washington’s lead bill wouldn’t safeguard school drinking water

The state Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on a significantly-weakened version of a bill related to lead in schools’ drinking water. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | WashPIRG | Public Health, Consumer Protection

“Bruce Speight Act” would protect children from lead exposure

The Washington State House will have an initial hearing today on a bill to get lead out of drinking water at schools.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Statement: FDA fails to fully protect kids from nicotine addiction

The Food and Drug Administration issued a policy today that would take many flavors of cartridge-based e-cigarettes such as Juul temporarily off the market due to their appeal to kids.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health, Antibiotics

Superbugs Unplugged: PIRG launches podcast about antibiotic resistance

Get ready for some alarming stories—and they're all the more alarming because they're true.

On Nov. 14, U.S. PIRG and the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center (ARAC) of George Washington University launched "Superbugs Unplugged," a podcast that will dive into the alarming issue of antibiotic resistance and how we can slow it. Matt Wellington, our Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics campaign director, is co-hosting the podcast, along with Dr. Lance Price of ARAC. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | WashPIRG | Public Health, Consumer Protection

“Bruce Speight Act” would protect children from lead exposure

The Washington State House will have an initial hearing today on a bill to get lead out of drinking water at schools.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Statement: FDA fails to fully protect kids from nicotine addiction

The Food and Drug Administration issued a policy today that would take many flavors of cartridge-based e-cigarettes such as Juul temporarily off the market due to their appeal to kids.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

CDC estimates at least 35,000 die from drug-resistant infections annually

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its new Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States report, which estimates at least 35,000 Americans die annually from infections that antibiotics can no longer effectively treat.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

REPORT: Most Fast Food Chains Get Poor Grades for Overuse of Antibiotics in Beef

The fifth annual Chain Reaction report grades the top fast food and fast casual chains on antibiotic use in their beef supply chains. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

New analysis uncovers unsafe blood pressure medication distributed in US

A new analysis of publicly available information from the FDA by U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund finds only 26 percent of a class of recalled blood pressure medications have been assessed for carcinogen contamiantion -- and the majority had some lots with higher levels than the FDA considers safe.

> Keep Reading

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Chain Reaction III

The third annual Chain Reaction report, which grades companies on their antibiotics policies and practices, found that 14 out of the top 25 restaurants in the U.S. have taken steps to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in the production of the chicken they serve, up from nine just one year ago. While restaurant chains made great progress on chicken, the groups who authored the report found that there were no new commitments to limit antibiotic use in beef and pork.

> Keep Reading
Report | WashPIRG Foundation | Public Health

Get the Lead Out

Given the high toxicity of lead to children, the most health-protective policy is simply to “get the lead out” of our schools and pre-schools.  This involves pro-actively removing lead-bearing parts from schools’ drinking water systems – from service lines to faucets and fixtures – and installing certified filters at every tap used for drinking or cooking.  While all this prevention work cannot all happen at once, schools should immediately begin regular and proper testing of all water outlets used for drinking or cooking and promptly remove from service those outlets where lead is detected

> Keep Reading
Report | WashPIRG Foundation | Public Health

Letter to Subway President and CEO Fred De Luca

A letter signed by nearly 60 public interest, medical, public health, environmental and animal welfare organizations was delivered to Subway Founder and CEO Fred DeLuca and Senior VP Suzanne Greco today, asking the restaurant giant to phase out meats produced with routine use of antibiotics (i.e. for growth promotion and disease prevention), on June 23, 2015. As the largest fast-food chains in the world, Subway’s action on this issue would help tackle the growing health crisis of antibiotic resistance. 

> Keep Reading
Report | WashPIRG Foundation | Public Health

Letter to Subway President and CEO Fred De Luca

A letter signed by nearly 60 public interest, medical, public health, environmental and animal welfare organizations was delivered to Subway Founder and CEO Fred DeLuca and Senior VP Suzanne Greco today, asking the restaurant giant to phase out meats produced with routine use of antibiotics (i.e. for growth promotion and disease prevention), on June 23, 2015. As the largest fast-food chains in the world, Subway’s action on this issue would help tackle the growing health crisis of antibiotic resistance. 

> Keep Reading
Report | WashPIRG and Consumers Union | Public Health

Prescription For Change

Our September 2014 survey of physicians paints a grim picture of the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant infections. The overwhelming majority of surveyed doctors reported that one or more of their patients had been diagnosed with a presumed or confirmed case of a multi-drug resistant bacterial infection in the past twelve months. They also expressed concern about the use of antibiotics in livestock production facilities on healthy animals in order to promote growth and prevent disease.

> Keep Reading

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Blog Post | Public Health

History repeats: Congress takes on tobacco industry, again | Matt Wellington

Today, the Oversight Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee -- the very Committee that dramatically and finally exposed tobacco companies’ ploys to deceive smokers back in 1994 -- is taking on the tobacco threat 2.0 with a hearing about the public health risks of e-cigarettes. Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) submitted U.S. PIRG's blog on the youth vaping epidemic into the official record of the hearing. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

Amazon: Take responsibility for unsafe products

Most of us expect that the products we buy in stores are safe to use. It turns out that's not always the case with Amazon. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

Public education, member action strengthen call to ban Roundup

The more we educate the public about Monsanto's weedkiller, Roundup, the more support we find for banning the product—the residue of which can be found practically everywhere, from breakfast cereal to ice cream.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health, Antibiotics

Why does agribusiness keep overusing antibiotics? Consider 'Pig Zero.'

"Don't wait for Pig Zero," declared the poster, featuring a pig peeking through a giant blue zero, that appeared at last year's swine industry trade show.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

Study finds weed killer in beer and wine

The last thing you want to think about when you pour yourself a glass of wine or a cold beer is whether it contains even small levels of a potentially carcinogenic weed killer.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Public Health, Antibiotics

Why does agribusiness keep overusing antibiotics? Consider 'Pig Zero.'

"Don't wait for Pig Zero," declared the poster, featuring a pig peeking through a giant blue zero, that appeared at last year's swine industry trade show.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

Study finds weed killer in beer and wine

The last thing you want to think about when you pour yourself a glass of wine or a cold beer is whether it contains even small levels of a potentially carcinogenic weed killer.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

Home Depot misses deadline to get toxic paint strippers off store shelves

Dozens of people have died. Yet in January, Home Depot was still selling the products that led to their deaths.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

How safe is our food? Not safe enough, says PIRG Consumer Watchdog team, and it's trending in the wrong direction

Unsafe food recalls in the U.S. are trending the wrong way. From 2013 to 2017, they rose 10 percent overall, and a whopping 83 percent for the most hazardous meat and poultry recalls.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

Which stores make the grade for getting toxic chemicals off the shelves?

Out of the 40 largest retailers in North America, 19 lack any public policy to address toxic chemicals in the products found on their shelves.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post

Each week, we’ll be posting a round-up of short stories from across our network from staff experiencing various COVID-related issues, and what they did about them.

Blog Post

To keep the sickest people alive during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we need ventilators. We don’t have them — and that says something about our priorities.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

A new investigation by ProPublica, along with reporting by numerous other outlets, has revealed that suppliers are using the COVID-19 public health emergency to drive up prices exorbitantly on medical equipment. 

News Release | U.S. PIRG

In response to a critical shortage of ventilators needed to keep severe COVID-19 patients breathing, President Donald Trump ordered General Motors to produce the life-saving machines under the Defense Production Act. The Department of Health and Human Services will be responsible for implementation of and follow through on that order. 

Public Health

Responding to the crisis

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever, we need to work together to ensure that our government has a coordinated, strategic response to safeguard the public’s health, protect consumers from emerging dangers and ensure people can still participate fully in our democracy.

 

Public Health

EPA review insists glyphosate not linked to cancer

On Jan. 30, EPA finalized its review of the main active ingredient in Bayer/Monsanto's ubiquitous weedkiller, Roundup. Despite its designation as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization's cancer research agency, the EPA reaffirmed its stance that glyphosate is not a carcinogen. Read more about our campaign to ban Roundup. 

 

Public Health

Ban Roundup

As cancer victims hold Monsanto accountable in court, governors should act to ban Roundup unless and until it's proven safe.

 

Public Health | U.S. PIRG

Get the lead out

The kids are back at school. How do we make sure their water is safe to drink?

 
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