New from EPA! Data on Lead in School and Child Care Drinking Water
In 2016, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act established a voluntary national program to test for lead in school and child care drinking water. Congress authorized additional funds for the program with America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA) and again through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law). Notably, the IIJA also authorized funds for remediation of elevated lead levels in school and child care drinking water. Compliance with WIIN Act regulations means that states must make data from their school and child care tap water lead testing programs available to the public.
Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency’s new webpage, Voluntary School and Child Care Lead Testing and Reduction State Grant Program Contacts, available information about the presence of lead in school and childcare drinking water from 34 states plus the District of Columbia is now readily accessible. Data from the remaining 16 U.S. states are forthcoming.
To date, states’ public-facing presentations of available data are highly variable. It is to be hoped that states collect and report data following EPA’s best practices by using the EPA’s 3Ts (Training, Testing, and Taking Action) for reducing lead in drinking water guidance, including using the data fields in EPA’s “E-trackers” for school and child care lead test results. This would form the beginning of a long-awaited national data set on the existence of lead in school and child care drinking water and enable analysis by experts seeking to understand associations and trends in drinking water lead levels.
Example: This data table provided by Hawai’i state (a small section is shown here) would enable basic analysis of lead levels in Hawai’i schools. Thanks to the inclusion of water outlet photos in this dataset, a basic assessment of the quality of access to drinking water in Hawai’i schools would also be possible.
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