Interactive map highlights pervasive lead contamination in school drinking water  

Media Contacts
John Rumpler

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

Emily Rogers

Former Zero Out Toxics, Advocate, PIRG

child drinking water
Anneka |
Our kids need safe drinking water.

Advocates urge officials to “get the lead out” during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

BOSTON — Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund released on Wednesday an updated interactive map that shows lead contamination of school drinking water is a widespread problem across the country. The map is now part of the groups’ toolkit that helps families, teachers and school officials get the facts on lead and take action to ensure safe drinking water at school.

“Most schools have faucets, fountains, pipes or plumbing made with lead,” said John Rumpler, clean water program director for Environment America Research & Policy Center. “With unprecedented federal funding available, states and school districts now have the resources to replace lead-bearing fountains with water stations that have filters to remove lead from water.” 

Researchers believe lead contamination of schools’ water extends far beyond what the available data show. Even though lead is toxic to children at extremely low levels, some states have only published test results with lead concentrations that exceed five or even 15 parts per billion. 

This week, Environment Georgia researchers found that lead was detected at at least 45% of school water taps tested through a state voluntary program thus far. Rather than wait for more test results, the groups are calling on public officials to take swift action to “get the lead out” of schools’ drinking water. 

Across the country, local and state governments are taking action to prevent lead in school drinking water: most recently, a new ordinance in Philadelphia requires schools to install new water bottle stations with filters certified to remove lead. The Michigan legislature is considering bills that would require filters on taps in both schools and child care centers.

Our kids deserve drinking water that is free of toxic substances wherever they go daily to learn and play,” said Emily Rogers, Zero Out Toxics advocate at U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “We hope this map serves as a call to action, helping us to get the lead out of school drinking water once and for all.”