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 | US PIRG | Public Health

Statement: Chick-fil-A completes phasing antibiotics out of its chicken supply

In a big win for keeping antibiotics effective, Chick-fil-A announced today that it has officially met its 2014 goal of eliminating chicken raised with antibiotics from its supply chain and now serves No Antibiotics Ever(NAE) chicken in all 2,400+ of its U.S. restaurants.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Statement: Proposal to take flavored vaping products off market a crucial tactic to stop youth epidemic

In response to growing concerns about the health threats of vaping and its skyrocketing use among youth, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced today that the Food and Drug Administration is preparing to finalize guidance to prohibit the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products other than tobacco flavored.

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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. 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

U.S. PIRG applauds Michigan for banning flavored e-cigarettes, urges other states to act

Michigan today became the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

U.S. PIRG commends FDA on its proposed graphic warnings for cigarettes, urges increased action on e-cigarettes as a major health threat

The Food and Drug Administration proposed a rule today that would require new warnings for cigarette packages that depict the health risks of smoking. 

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Pages

News Release | WashPIRG Foundation | Public Health

Washington State gets an ‘F’ for efforts to address lead in school drinking water

Reacting to pervasive lead contamination in schools’ drinking water, Environment Washington Research and Policy Center (RPC) and WashPIRG Foundation gave Washington State an “F” grade today for addressing the problem, according to a new national report. In the second edition of our Get The Lead Out study, the state showed poor progress as Washington State received an “F” grade in 2017. 

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

Tyson chicken strips recalled, may contain pieces of metal

Just seven weeks after Tyson Foods recalled chicken nuggets that could contain rubber, the poultry giant is recalling chicken strips that might contain metal. 

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News Release | WashPIRG Foundation | Public Health, Antibiotics, Food

McDonald’s Takes Step to Protect Public Health

Today, McDonald’s released a new policy to restrict medically important antibiotic use in its beef supply chain. As the largest beef purchaser in the United States, McDonald’s new commitment could spark an industry-wide change to help keep antibiotics effective.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

New car seats made without toxic flame-retardant chemicals

Car seats are supposed to keep our youngest children safe. But though they may protect infants and toddlers during accidents, car seats have a history of containing toxic flame-retardant chemicals.

That’s finally changing.

Today, a coalition of groups including U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Ecology Center’s “Healthy Stuff” program released test results on car seats in a new report, Hidden Hazards:Flame Retardants and PFAS in Children’s Car Seats. The authors collaborated with researchers from Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame.

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News Release | WashPIRG Foundation | Public Health, Antibiotics

Chain Reaction report urges burger restaurants to beef up policies to eliminate routine use of antibiotics

Two growing burger chains, Shake Shack and BurgerFi, stand out from the herd when it comes to serving beef raised without the routine use of antibiotics in the burger industry. They were the only restaurants to earn an “A” on the fourth annual Chain Reaction scorecard released today by six major consumer and environmental organizations. The vast majority of hamburger chains — 22 of the top 25, including giants such as McDonald’s — got an “F” grade because they lack established policies restricting antibiotic use in their beef supply chains.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

EPA’s Pruitt Met with Dow Prior to Favorable RulingDev GowdaKara Cook-Schultz

On March 31st, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that his agency would deny a petition to ban the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos from being sprayed on food. He announced this decision despite EPA scientists’ earlier findings that concluded that chlorpyrifos, which is manufactured by Dow Chemical, can harm brain development of fetuses and infants after ingesting even small amounts. The news that the EPA would continue to allow the spraying of chlorpyrifos alarmed doctors and other public health officials, but what’s even more interesting is that according to several recent Freedom of Information Act requests, Pruitt met with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris at a Houston hotel just twenty days prior to making his controversial decision.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

#KickTheCan: BPA still found in many grocery stores’ canned foods | Dev Gowda

We’re all told to watch out for BPA in drinking bottles and baby products. But how about BPA in the cans that contain our food? A recent study by Center for Environmental Health (CEH) reveals that the toxic chemical BPA is readily found in canned foods. BPAs are often used in the liners of canned food to keep the aluminum from interacting with the food.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Calling for Big Action on Antibiotics in the Big Apple | Steve Blackledge

Last week, we were in New York City, where the United Nations General Assembly spent an entire day discussing antibiotic resistance, “the biggest threat to modern medicine.” Experts estimate that more than 700,000 people worldwide die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, including 23,000 in the United States—a number that could grow to 10 million globally by 2050.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Antibiotics

Grilling to protect public health | Anya Vanecek

With antibiotics, we can all enjoy the summer free from the worry that a stumble on the sidewalk or a minor burn from the grill could turn into a serious illness. So what could be a better centerpiece to the picnic table than meat raised without routine antibiotics?

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Blog Post | Public Health

Flint Pediatrician Gave a Voice to the Voiceless in Flint, Michigan | Anna Low-Beer

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is the Flint pediatrician who led the charge in proving that Flint water was tainted by lead and was poisoning the community. Without her drive and dedication to the children of Flint, it is hard to say how long government officials might have left the public in the dark about the mounting crisis. In honor of Women’s History Month we’re recognizing Dr. Hanna-Attisha -- a doctor, mother, and activist -- who has relentlessly fought for the public interest. 

> Keep Reading

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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. 

News Release | U.S. PIRG

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.

News Release | Environment Washington, WashPIRG

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. 

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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