Get the Lead Out of Drinking Water in Schools

WE NEED LEAD-FREE SCHOOLS — Lead is a potent neurotoxin that affects how our children develop, learn, and behave. Yet almost half of the more than 66,000 taps tested at Massachusetts public schools found some level of lead in the water.

Over the past few years, the tragedy of Flint, Michigan has stunned the nation. We watched the drinking water of an entire city become contaminated with lead. And now we know this toxic threat extends well beyond Flint to communities across the country. In fact, test results now show that lead is even contaminating drinking water in schools and pre-schools — flowing from thousands of fountains and faucets where our kids drink water every day.

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that affects how our children develop, learn and behave. Yet almost half (49.09%) of the more than 66,000 taps tested at Massachusetts public schools by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection found some level of lead in the water. The vast majority of those lead levels were in concentrations greater than 1 part per billion.

Remediation for lead in schools requires many steps. Lead service lines, the largest single source of lead in water, must be removed. Faucets and drinking fountains need safe filters, and the water that schoolchildren drink every day should be tested regularly in order to ensure their safety. Schools deserve a health-based standard for action on lead contamination, one endorsed by the medical community.


MASSPIRG Education Fund’s Deirdre Cummings speaks at a press conference to release our new report on lead in drinking water.

The Problem

  • Lead is a potent neurotoxin, and exposure to lead has been shown to cause a variety of health problems. Myriad intellectual and behavioral disabilities, stunted growth, hearing loss and anemia have all been tied directly to lead exposure.
  • Children are especially at risk to lead poisoning and health problems related to lead exposure, as physical and behavioral effects have been shown to occur at lower exposure levels in younger people.
  • There is no safe level of lead exposure according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Unlike some other toxins, lead accumulates in the body where it can reach dangerous levels after repeated exposure to even small amounts.
  • No effective treatment exists to ameliorate the permanent developmental effects of lead toxicity, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Prevention is the most efficient and most cost-effective means of treating lead poisoning.
  • Almost half (49.09%) of more than 66,000 taps tested throughout more than 200 Massachusetts towns found some levels of lead in the drinking water, recent testing results show. The vast majority of those lead levels were in concentrations greater than 1 part per billion (PPB), with almost a quarter of those testing at levels higher than 15PPB.


Data from Mass. DEP LCCA Testing Results, updated June 2.

Campaign to Get the Lead Out of Drinking Water in Schools

To ensure safe drinking water at our children’s schools, MASSPIRG Education Fund launched our “Get the Lead Out” campaign. Our goal is to convince local and state decision makers to adopt policies that proactively remove the threat of lead contamination from drinking water at schools, daycare centers and preschools.

Based on consultations with health and water engineering professionals, our policy agenda includes the following:

  1. Removing lead service lines
  2. Installing certified filters
  3. Requiring action whenever lead exceeds 1 part per billion in water
  4. Giving parents, school employees and communities full access to data and accountability on water testing and remediation efforts

MASSPIRG Education Fund is partnering with doctors, nurses, other health professionals, PTAs, teachers and school committees to elevate this issue as a serious threat to children’s health and arming decision makers with smart policy recommendations. 

For more information, contact Deirdre Cummings via email at dcummings@masspirg.org or by phone at (617) 747-4319.

 

Issue updates

News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Dangerous secrets: Popular cosmetics brands fail to disclose ingredients

Boston -- Some of the largest cosmetic and personal care companies are doing a poor job informing the public on what ingredients are going into their products, hiding potentially toxic chemicals from consumers. The MASSPIRG Education Fund released USPIRG Education Fund’s scorecard report Wednesday that found 20 of 26 surveyed brands had failed to adequately disclose product ingredients to consumers. The report, entitled Looking Inward 2021: Where popular personal care brands stand on ingredient safety and disclosure, found the average ingredient disclosure score was 5.56 out of 10, or an F, pointing to a need for improvement across the industry.

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Looking Inward 2021

Some of the largest cosmetic and personal care companies are doing a poor job informing the public on what ingredients are going into their products, hiding potentially toxic chemicals from consumers. This report found 20 of 26 surveyed brands had failed to adequately disclose product ingredients to consumers and the average ingredient disclosure score was 5.56 out of 10, or an F, pointing to a need for improvement across the industry.

> Keep Reading
News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Statement: New FDA plan to reduce toxic metal in baby food falls short

A month after announcing a weak plan to reduce heavy metals in baby food, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new plan Thursday aimed at making baby food safer over the next several years.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Public Health

After 20 people die and dozens become ill, FDA finally flags hand sanitizer from Mexico | Teresa Murray

Consumers still at risk for harmful over-the-counter drug products of all types because of soft federal regulations.

> Keep Reading
News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19, Public Health, Health Care

NURSING HOMES STILL DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MASKS, GOWNS, OTHER PPE

A new analysis by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group found that 8 percent of nursing homes nationwide as of Dec. 27 had a critical shortage of surgical-grade N95 masks, which are the best protection against spreading the virus. Additionally, 4 to 6 percent of nursing homes reported shortages in at least one other category of personal protective equipment.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Dangerous secrets: Popular cosmetics brands fail to disclose ingredients

Boston -- Some of the largest cosmetic and personal care companies are doing a poor job informing the public on what ingredients are going into their products, hiding potentially toxic chemicals from consumers. The MASSPIRG Education Fund released USPIRG Education Fund’s scorecard report Wednesday that found 20 of 26 surveyed brands had failed to adequately disclose product ingredients to consumers. The report, entitled Looking Inward 2021: Where popular personal care brands stand on ingredient safety and disclosure, found the average ingredient disclosure score was 5.56 out of 10, or an F, pointing to a need for improvement across the industry.

> Keep Reading
News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Statement: New FDA plan to reduce toxic metal in baby food falls short

A month after announcing a weak plan to reduce heavy metals in baby food, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new plan Thursday aimed at making baby food safer over the next several years.

> Keep Reading
News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19, Public Health, Health Care

NURSING HOMES STILL DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MASKS, GOWNS, OTHER PPE

A new analysis by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group found that 8 percent of nursing homes nationwide as of Dec. 27 had a critical shortage of surgical-grade N95 masks, which are the best protection against spreading the virus. Additionally, 4 to 6 percent of nursing homes reported shortages in at least one other category of personal protective equipment.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

New investigation: Supermarkets failing to warn public about food recalls

Boston -- Americans are not hearing about food recalls, and that communication breakdown is having serious repercussions for public health. For example, less than two years ago, people kept getting sick for months after 12 million pounds of Salmonella-contaminated beef was recalled. The pattern has repeated for other recalls even when news outlets have publicized warnings from food safety agencies.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Safer School Supplies: Shopping Guide

With this Safer School Supplies: Shopping Guide, parents, teachers, and students can make more informed decisions while shopping for school supplies this Back to School season. We want to give parents and teachers the option to choose school supplies that do not contain toxic chemicals. This Shopping Guide should serve as a handy tool for finding products free of several types of toxic chemicals.

 

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

In Your Face

The negative health effects of asbestos are well-known. Most people may associate asbestos contamination with the workplace or decades-old construction material, but alarmingly, recent media reports have found asbestos contamination in kids' makeup from popular stores like Claire's and Justice. 

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG | Public Health

Kiss Off: A Consumer's Guide To Saying No To Toxic Lip Products

Lip products are used by most Americans every day. In fact, 81 percent of women and 39 percent of men use lipstick or lip balm products.Unfortunately, the ingredients in these products are barely regulated, and many major brands use toxic chemicals in these products. This consumer guide includes some potentially dangerous examples and a few “safer” alternative products that do not contain these toxic ingredients. With so many lip products that contain toxic chemicals, it is hard for the average consumer to know what is safe to use and what is not.

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Lead in Fidget Spinners

The MASSPIRG Education Fund found fidget spinners with high levels of lead for sale at Target stores in Massachusetts and across the country.

> Keep Reading
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

Pages

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.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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
Blog Post | Public Health

Is your daily routine toxic? | Anna Low-Beer

Because of a lack of regulation, many cosmetics and personal care products contain potentially toxic ingredients, like formaldehyde and lead acetate. What toxic chemicals might you encounter as you go about your daily routine? 

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | US PIRG

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. said Wednesday it’s voluntarily recalling all lots of five types of Neutrogena and Aveeno aerosol sunscreen after internal testing showed “low levels of benzene” -- which can cause cancer -- in some samples. J&J also said consumers should stop using the sunscreen.

News Release | US PIRG

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. said Wednesday it’s voluntarily recalling all lots of five types of Neutrogena and Aveeno aerosol sunscreen after internal testing showed “low levels of benzene” -- which can cause cancer -- in some samples. J&J also said consumers should stop using the sunscreen.

News Release | US PIRG

Beech-Nut will stop selling all single grain rice cereal after Alaska state officials discovered high arsenic levels during routing sampling, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) said in a statement released Tuesday.

News Release | US PIRG

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission approved tough new standards Wednesday to regulate several infant sleep products for the first time.

View AllRSS Feed

Support Us

Your tax-deductible donation supports MASSPIRG Education Fund’s work to educate consumers on the issues that matter, and to stand up to the powerful interests that are blocking progress.

Learn More

You can also support MASSPIRG Education Fund’s work through bequests, contributions from life insurance or retirement plans, securities contributions and vehicle donations. 




MASSPIRG Education Fund is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.