April 6, 2020

Understanding & Responding to Lead in School Drinking Water

National Healthy Schools Day 2020 falls on April 7th. The National Healthy Schools partnership had planned to focus on “The Air we Breathe, the Water we Drink.” In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the partnership pivoted to encouraging schools and districts to think about ways to take advantage of empty school buildings to perform maintenance tasks. National Healthy Schools Day 2020 also provides an opportunity to advocate for federal attention to health and safety conditions in our nation’s schools. 

For example, in the House, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-3) and 211 co-sponsors have offered HR 865 – Rebuild America’s Schools Act, while in the Senate, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and 26 co-sponsors offered S.266 – Rebuild America’s Schools Act. Congress could restore or even expand funds to EPA for programs that improve environmental health in school settings and could ensure continued appropriations for programs to test fo...

March 10, 2020

$22.8 Million for Projects in Schools and Childcare Facilities

The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act of 2016 authorized federal funds for lead in drinking water programs. All 50 states submitted Letters of Intent to apply for appropriated WIIN Act financial assistance for programs to detect lead in school and childcare drinking water through sampling and testing of facility tap water.

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has opened a new WIIN Act grant program, “Reduction in Lead Exposure Via Drinking Water.” Congress has authorized $39.9 million in funds to reduce lead through either infrastructure and utility water treatment improvements, or through school and childcare facility remediation. The portion for “Reduction of Children’s Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities” provides $22.8 million in awards for projects to remove and/or replace lead-containing plumbing parts in school or childcare buildings.


February 26, 2020

Water is a basic human need—something kids cannot live without. Because children spend so much time at school, having fresh, clean water available to them is critical for them to live healthier lives. 

All kids in every school in the United States should have access to water at no cost while they’re on campus. When kids don’t have enough water to drink, their health and cognitive performance, particularly their short-term memory, may suffer. And, when water is not available, children tend to consume more sugary drinks, which are linked to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

You can learn more about the importance of drinking water in Voices for Healthy Kids Water Access in Schools Fast Facts

Inside this document, you’ll find facts from up-to-date studies and “fast facts” written in consumer-friendly language. Voices for Healthy Kids, an initiative of the American Heart Association with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), has a science...

February 21, 2020

A new fact sheet aims to demystify tap water contamination and provide clear information on tap water safety for childcare providers and for parents of young children.

There are over 20 million children aged 5 and under in the United States and over half of them attend center-based childcare (as opposed to care by friends and family).  Facilities participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) are required to make potable (safe) water available and offered throughout the day. States may have their own more stringent licensing requirements for drinking water provision in childcare and other states may require all licensed childcare facilities to comply with CACFP standards. But all families with young children should have safe drinking water.

Lead is a particular concern in the early years because young children are most vulnerable to its toxic effects. Infants fed formula that is reconstituted with tap water are at highest risk, if the tap water has unsafe le...

April 2, 2019

More than 50 organizations and agencies across the country – including the National Drinking Water Alliance - are celebrating National Healthy Schools Day today. National Healthy Schools Day recognizes the work being done by organizations across the United States to ensure a healthy school for every child.

Decades of studies show that children, especially the youngest and those with pre-existing health or learning issues, are adversely impacted by decayed learning environments in both schools and childcare facilities. Easy access to safe and appealing drinking water is an important feature of a healthy school.

What can you do?

Check-out some essential school drinking water safety resources:

  • A recent report from the Harvard T.H .Chan School of Public Health and the UC Nutrition Policy Institute on state approaches to testing school drinking water for lead

  • Our water safety map, which details media reports of tap water contamination. Know of an incident that’s not on the map...

June 25, 2018

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) worked with 11 child care facilities in four states (IL, MI, MS, OH) in a pilot that went in-depth on methods to test for and to remediate elevated lead levels in water in these settings. The report includes a clear description of the concerns and considerations surrounding lead exposure in child care facilities, as well as remediation techniques. Click to read the full report, “Putting children first: Tackling lead in water at child care facilities."

EDF used an action level of 3.8 ppb, consistent with their earlier work examining health-based standards for lead in drinking water. They tested over 1,500 water samples through analysis by a certified lab, including before and after remediation techniques. They also evaluated two portable testing meters.

Key Results

  • More than three out of four water samples had lead levels below 1 ppb. However, seven of 11 child care facilities had at least one drinking water fixture sample above their action le...

Discusses the importance of providing access to safe, quality drinking water in schools; the current state of tap water in schools; and what steps can be taken to improve drinking water quality and encourage healthy hydration habits.