New report: Colorado schools have homework to remove lead from drinking water

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Thursday, June 6, 2024

DENVER – In a new report released Thursday, CoPIRG Foundation showed that of the 2,201 water fixtures at the 10 largest Colorado school districts that tested positive for high levels of lead, 1,417 still have yet to be remediated, even though most testing was completed more than a year ago. Lead is a potent neurotoxin that affects how children learn, grow and behave. 

“Kids may be out of school for the summer, but schools have a lot of homework to do to ensure sources of lead-contaminated drinking water are addressed before kids return in the fall,” said CoPIRG Foundation Clean Air Advocate Kirsten Schatz. “We’re calling on schools to adopt a “Get the Lead Out” policy that eliminates lead from kids’ drinking water and gives all Colorado children a safer and healthier learning environment.” 

A 2022 Colorado law required most elementary schools and child care centers to test drinking  water sources for lead, report results publicly by May 2023, and act to remediate any source that had levels of lead of 5 parts per billion (ppb) or more. Some districts have also tested fixtures in schools that serve kids beyond fifth grade. 

Across the state’s 10 largest school districts, 2,201 drinking water sources recorded lead amounts at or above that 5 ppb, but only 36% of those sources had been remediated as of the reporting date. 

While the report focused on the 5 ppb standard, CoPIRG Foundation is calling on school districts to remediate any drinking water sources that tested positive for any lead because the American Academy of Pediatrics says there is no safe level for lead. The organization plans to do an updated report analyzing the number of fixtures that tested for lead below the 5 ppb standard.

CoPIRG Foundation also released a toolkit to help parents look up the lead testing results for their kids’ schools and take action, if necessary. 

“Knowledge is power,” said Schatz. “Parents armed with the state’s lead testing results should have an easier time getting school administrators to ‘get the lead out’ and if they are not responsive, it should be easier to hold them accountable.”

The full report can be found here.