New toolkit gives California parents know-how to “Get the Lead Out” of school drinking water

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Oakland – With school kids “back to school”, and the legislature wrapping up their 2019 session, CALPIRG today released a new free toolkit to help parents, teachers and administrators Get the Lead Out of school drinking water.  With a lack of complete information on lead contamination in schools throughout the state, CALPIRG Education Fund provide this tool to grapple with this serious health threat facing our children.

“Our kids deserve safe drinking water at school,” said Laura Deehan, Public Health Advocate.  “We want to give parents, teachers, and school administrators the tools they need to ‘get the lead out.’”

Lead contamination in school drinking water is a problem in California.  Recent testing has found over 2,000 school water fountains and sinks with lead

Moreover, currently documented cases of lead contamination are likely just the tip of the iceberg, since the vast number of California’s school water fountains have not yet been tested for lead. As noted in the toolkit, most schools have fountains, solder, or other metal items that can leach lead into drinking water.   

“I know many parents who had a new water bottle on their ‘back to school’ shopping list,” said Mariaelena Huizar, CA PTA V.P. Of Health and Community Concerns.  “We’ve got to make sure what’s going in those bottles is safe. For that reason, I’m recommending this Get the Lead Out toolkit to parents. It’s short and gives you concrete tools to work with your school and ensure safe drinking water for our children.”

CALPIRG’s toolkit includes a factsheet, video, sample call-to-action materials and links to additional resources. Notably, the toolkit answers technical questions such as how to evaluate test results and which solutions work best to prevent contamination.

“Lead is a potent neurotoxin, affecting the way our kids learn, grow, and behave,” said Dr Alice Kuo, President of the Southern California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  “I strongly recommend parents get the facts about lead contamination of drinking water and how to prevent it.”  

School districts are largely left to address lead contamination on their own, as state law does little to prevent children’s drinking water from becoming laced with lead at school.  In a report earlier this year, CALPIRG gave California a GRADE OF C+ in addressing this threat to children’s health. This session, the legislature proposed a downpayment on solving the problem, with the passage of AB48, the statewide school bond, which set aside up to $150 million for schools to fully test and begin remediation efforts. 

 “No parent should have to worry about their child drinking water with lead,” said Laura Deehan. “We have got to do better.  We owe it to our kids.”




CALPIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.


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