Parents and teachers call on EPA to ‘get the lead out’ at school

Media Contacts
John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America Research & Policy Center

Yana Kucher

Director of Field Analytics and Planning, The Public Interest Network

Groups urge water stations and filters at every tap to ensure safe water for kids

WASHINGTON – Organizations representing millions of parents and teachers are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to have water utilities to replace lead-bearing fountains and install filters to remove lead at schools and child care centers — instead of relying on highly variable testing. The 119 groups joining this comment letter on the EPA’s proposed Lead & Copper Rule Improvements include:

  • National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) 
  • National Association of School Nurses
  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
  • National Education Association (NEA) 
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America
  • National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers 

Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund also submitted 22,673 comments from individuals and a separate letter from public health experts.

“Kids deserve safe drinking water wherever they go to learn and play each day,” said John Rumpler, clean water director for Environment America Research & Policy Center. ”Instead of more unreliable testing, the EPA should get water utilities to replace lead-bearing fountains with new water stations and put filters on all drinking water taps at school.”

Schools commonly have plumbing, fountains or faucets made with lead, and lead contamination of schools’ drinking water is widespread. Thus, while the EPA’s proposed rule sets a 10-year deadline for most water utilities to fully replace an estimated 9+ million lead service lines, additional measures are necessary to ensure safe water at schools.

Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund have been urging the EPA to stop lead contamination since they launched their joint Get the Lead Out campaign in 2017. The groups’ research has found that most states are doing little to prevent lead contamination of schools’ water, which makes action by the EPA all the more urgent.

A small but growing number of jurisdictions — including Michigan, Philadelphia and Washington, DC — have adopted policies requiring filters certified to remove lead at every tap used for cooking or drinking water in schools.

“We have long known that exposure to lead impairs development, learning and behavior in children. Yet, we somehow allowed this toxic metal to be used in the pipes and plumbing that deliver our drinking water,” said Yana Kucher, the chair of U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s toxics program. “Kudos to the EPA for moving to put lead pipes into the dustbin of history.  Now, let’s take the same preventive approach to ensure safe water for kids at school and child care centers.”

Boy drinking from water fountain
Phase 4 Photography |
Boy drinking from water fountain