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Checking for Lead in Drinking Water

Does your school have a strategy to mitigate lead in drinking water before the school season begins?
***This information is also useful for addressing copper.***

Background

New federal and state guidance for schools and early education and childcare facilities recommend that they identify and address all taps and water fountains used for drinking, cooking, and medical purposes that have levels of lead over the recommended laboratory detection limit of 1 part per billion or copper over 1.3 parts per million.

Before school starts, is the time to think about important steps to minimize lead and copper levels in school drinking water.

Many facilities may be shut down for vacations or extended periods, or operated under reduced schedules during the year, resulting in decreased water use. When water is stagnant in building plumbing for long periods, lead or copper may leach into the water.

To reduce the likelihood of elevated lead or copper levels in your drinking water, the following is recommended:

Lead and Copper Mitigation Checklist

  • Flush all lines and fixtures before people use water from the facility if water has been stagnant for prolonged periods of time. See Setting Up an LCCA Program at Your School and EPA's 3Ts Guidance Documents for more information on flushing strategies.
  • Before people use water from the facility, remove faucet screens and aerators and clean out any grit or debris. Continue to do this periodically. If aerators or screens are old and worn, replace them with new ones.
  • Determine if your facility has a lead service line and work to replace it.
  • Develop and/or maintain your own lead and copper sampling and analysis program. See Setting Up an LCCA Program at Your School on how to develop this plan.
  • Keep an updated materials inventory of all fixtures in your schools and keep records of your sampling results.
  • Remember to always use water from the cold water tap for drinking, food and hot beverage preparation. Hot water will dissolve lead more quickly than cold water and may contain increased lead levels.

Download this checklist in PDF format

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