Healthy School Environments
Why It's Important
- Thousands of public schools and licensed child care facilities are not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and therefore may or may not be conducting voluntary drinking water quality testing.
- Most lead gets into water after it leaves the local well or treatment plant and comes into contact with plumbing materials containing lead.
- Low levels of lead in blood have been associated with behavioral problems, learning disabilities and impaired growth. Very high blood lead levels can cause severe neurological problems such as coma, convulsions and even death.
What You Can Do
- Even with proper maintenance that meets EPA standards, lead may still get into water. Testing is the best way to know if there are elevated lead levels in a school's drinking water.
- Ensure proper maintenance and a system in place to reduce the risk of corrosion in the school's plumbing system.
- Visit the EPA Water website for access to water quality resources across EPA agencies.
- The Reduce Chemical and Environmental Contaminant Hazards component of EPA's model school environmental health program offers strategies to improve water quality.
EPA's revised guidance and toolkit provides simple strategies to manage the health risks of lead in school and drinking water.
Find More From...
EPA and Federal Partners
- EPA's Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities website provides basic information on drinking water and health effects as well as laws and regulations and guidance and tools to improve water quality in schools.
- EPA's Drinking Water and Ground Water Kids' Stuff presents games, activities and educational materials for both students and teachers.
- Monitoring and Assessing Water Quality describes EPA's work with state, local and tribal authorities to carry out nationwide water monitoring projects.
- Water Quality Funding Sources for Schools: A Resource for K-12 Schools and Child Care Facilities (PDF) (86pp, 1.36MB) by EPA lists funding sources and summarizes their funding priorities, grant-making history, available funding, eligibility criteria and geographic focus.
- Schools and Drinking Water by EPA offers a brochure that addresses safe drinking water in schools, as well as a poster and bookmark on source water protection for schools that operate their own well water system.
- Source Water Collaborative is a Web forum that gathers information and best practices to protect America's sources of drinking water. The website offers a free online tool to create a customized guide to encourage local action, enables individuals to connect with potential state or regional collaborators, and links to 23 national partner organizations, including EPA.
Regional, State and Local Resources
- Sensible Steps for Healthier School Environments by EPA provides an overview of issues related to drinking water in schools.
- Water Quality Testing Manual for Middle Schools and High Schools by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority contains background information, lesson ideas, procedures, data collection and reporting forms, suggestions for interpreting results, and extension activities related to testing the environmental quality of water bodies near schools.
- Drinking Water Resources for Schools from the Minnesota Department of Health describes state efforts to improve water quality in schools. The website includes:
- Water in Schools is a California website that describes the state's water quality, state and federal requirements, and ways to implement improvements in schools.