News Release

MASSPIRG Releases 2nd annual “Back to School” Toolkit for Parents to Get The Lead out of Schools’ Drinking Water

For Immediate Release

In honor of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, MASSPIRG and Environment America Research & Policy Center released their second annual toolkit to Get The Lead Out of schools’ water. Citing a lack of accurate information on lead contamination in water and how schools should prevent it, the groups have created this toolkit to help parents, teachers and school officials get the facts on lead in drinking water and grapple with this serious health threat facing our children.

“Lead is a potent neurotoxin, affecting the way our kids learn, grow, and behave,” said John Rumpler, clean water program director for Environment America Research & Policy Center.  “Our toolkit is designed to help parents, teachers, and administrators get the lead out.”

“Removing the lead from water is an important health issue for all of us. Banning lead paint and ensuring that people are aware of its dangers has had a profound effect on the consumer,” said Valerie McCann, a nurse at Tewksbury Hospital, “Now it’s time to focus on lead in our water. Lead exposure remains a serious public health concern for our children."

Over the past two years, the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs has tested over 78,000 faucets and fountains across the commonwealth. So far, roughly half were found to have lead.

Moreover, such confirmed cases of lead-laced water are likely just the tip of the iceberg. As noted in the toolkit, most schools built before 2014 have plumbing and/or fixtures that can leach lead into drinking water.  And at some older schools, the service lines that bring water from the mains in the street into buildings are made entirely of lead.

“At a time when we have driverless cars and 3D printers, we should not tolerate a system that delivers lead-laden water to anyone, let alone our children,” said Deirdre Cummings, Consumer Program Director for MASSPIRG. “Luckily, this is one problem we know how to fix. We just need to do it.”

MASSPIRG’s toolkit includes a factsheet, a video, sample materials to press for action, and links to additional resources, especially on technical questions like proper testing.

As the groups documented in a report earlier this year, state and federal regulations do not require schools to take the steps needed to prevent drinking water from becoming laced with lead. Massachusetts received a grade of D in addressing this threat to children’s health. It is now falling to parents to press for action at the local level. 

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