Florida has nearly 3,600 public schools and 9,000 licensed childcare facilities. According to Florida’s Department of Health (DOH), even low levels of lead exposure in children can result in brain and nervous system damage, and cause behavior and learning issues. To avoid these adverse effects, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that all schools and childcare facilities regularly test their drinking water for lead. If lead is found at any water outlet at levels above 15 parts per billion (ppb), EPA further recommends taking action to reduce the lead.
Section 2107 of the federal Water Infrastructure Improvements for the National (WIIN) Act authorized EPA to provide financial assistance for states to develop voluntary lead testing programs to check drinking water in schools and childcare facilities. Florida applied for and is receiving this assistance through a grant from EPA known as the “WIIN 2107 Grant.” Utilizing EPA guidance, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has developed the Voluntary Lead Testing Program for Schools and Childcare Facilities to allow qualifying facilities to participate in and benefit from this initiative.
What Are the Benefits for Participating?
The “on-again, off-again” nature of water at most schools and day care centers can raise lead levels in drinking water. Water that sits overnight, during a weekend, or vacation stays in contact with pipes that may contain lead or lead solder longer. Reducing the amount of lead in drinking water to as close to zero as possible is an important part of reducing a child’s overall exposure to lead in the environment.
Voluntary participation in this program is at no cost to the selected schools and childcare facilities. All participating facilities will receive:
On-site drinking water sample collection and analysis.
Educational materials on the health effects of lead in drinking water, methods to reduce lead exposure, proper methods for sample collection and preservation, and responding to elevated results.
Guidance for effectively communicating with parents and the community.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.