Group issues new toolkit on lead in school’s drinking water

Media Contacts
Emily Rogers

Former Zero Out Toxics, Advocate, PIRG

Emily Scarr

State Director, Maryland PIRG; Director, Stop Toxic PFAS Campaign, PIRG

Resource for parents highlights federal funding to get the lead out

Maryland PIRG Foundation and Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center

BALTIMORE – With kids finally back to school in-person this fall, Maryland PIRG Foundation and Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center released a new toolkit today to help parents, teachers and administrators Get the Lead Out of school drinking water. The new toolkit highlights the unprecedented federal funding available to school districts to install filtered hydration stations and take other measures to ensure safe drinking water. 

“Like all parents, I know our kids need safe drinking water at school, where they go to learn and play each day,” said Maryland PIRG Foundation Director Emily Scarr. “We have had to deal with rampant lead contamination in our schools, but we’re making strong progress to protect our kids and with this new funding available to school districts we can implement solutions to get the lead out of school drinking water.”

Lead is a major threat to childrens’ health, and it is contaminating drinking water at schools in Maryland. According to state reporting, nearly 80 percent of Maryland public schools and 58 percent of non-public schools had water samples exceeding 5 parts per billion (ppb). 

Under new expanded state law, all taps that tested about 5ppb are turned off and fixed. thanks to the Safe School Drinking Water Act, a bill sponsored by Delegate Jared Solomon and Senator Cory McCray which was signed into law by Gov. Hogan. State law now requires schools to test their water, so you should be able to find lead results on your school district’s website.

The toolkit explains why school boards should go further: there is no safe level of lead, and because most schools are likely to have lead in their plumbing or fixtures, contamination likely extends beyond confirmed test results

Schools can start getting the lead out of their water by replacing fountains with water bottle stations that have filters to certified remove lead. Installing these filtered hydration stations would only cost a fraction of the nearly $110 billion in federal stimulus that school districts are receiving.

The new toolkit includes a factsheet, video, sample call-to-action materials and links to additional resources. 

“We’ve known about lead toxicity for decades. It’s time to get the lead out of our schools” said Scarr. “We have got to do better. We owe it to our kids.”