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

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News Release | WashPIRG | Public Health

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News Release | WashPIRG Foundation

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Report | WashPIRG Foundation

Our children need safe drinking water – especially at school where they go to learn and play each day.  Unfortunately, lead is contaminating drinking water at schools and pre-schools across the country. As our report shows, states are failing to make the grade when it comes to keeping lead out of drinking water at school.  Instead of waiting for more testing, we need to proactively remove the lead pipes and plumbing at the root of this toxic hazard for our children.

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