Earlier this week I talked about lead contamination found in schools in Camden, NJ. I also shared with you my experiences in the early 1990’s with drinking water in Chinese primary schools. My interest and concern with water contamination at schools is driven by several facts: most contaminants cannot be detected by the students drinking the water, and, that children are more susceptible to toxins in the water due to their small body mass. Children are also our future. We cannot expose them to unknown contaminants. The responsibility is on the administration and our generation to ensure only the best for the children.
How widespread is the problem? I don’t know if anyone knows the extent and severity of the problem. But we do have some indication from published reports.
In 2002 the New York City Schools announced that it has shut off drinking fountains and posted caution notices in about 20% of the 990 schools tested. The shutdown was due to lead levels exceeding the EPA standards.
In 2009, two researchers from Virginia Tech University published a report on their findings of studies done in schools in Baltimore Md, Philadelphia Pa, Seattle Wa, Washington DC, and Los Angeles, Ca. (http://www.seas.yale.edu/watersymposium/pdfs/edwards1.pdf)
Quoting from their abstract:
“…highlight the potential exposure of sensitive populations to very high lead doses through consumption of contaminated drinking water. Lead levels greater than the EPA guideline of 20 ppb were measured at 18-48% of school taps, while in some schools drinking water outlets released concentrations of lead sufficient to qualify as “toxic waste” (>5,000 ppb)”
That’s pretty shocking. No doubt since that time steps have been taken to get the drinking water to within EPA guidelines. But in my opinion any lead in water is not good as lead is a cumulative poison. That is, the body can’t reject it and the lead just accumulates. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states “Even when exposed to small amounts of lead levels, children may appear inattentive, hyperactive and irritable. Children with greater lead levels may also have problems with learning and reading, delayed growth and hearing loss. At high levels, lead can cause permanent brain damage and even death” http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/lead_exposure_in_children_affects_brain_and_behavior
While these reports do not reflect most schools in the U.S.A. it is prudent for all parents to take the initiative active and use a water distiller at home for all water used for drinking, ice cubes and cooking. Also fill a bottle for your child to take to school. Even better, if you are on a school board or have connections to a school board, do the children a favor and have the school look at installing a commercial Pure Water distillation system and have it networked throughout the school. We guarantee the results! In the years ahead the children will thank you.