Lead has been found by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in the drinking water in schools across Arizona. To date, the drinking water in nearly 7,000 public school buildings has been tested as part of the six-month statewide screening program.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “there is no known safe level of lead in a child’s blood.”
From the EPA:
Young children, infants, and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to lead because the physical and behavioral effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels in children than in adults. A dose of lead that would have little effect on an adult can have a significant effect on a child. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that public health actions be initiated when the level of lead in a child’s blood is 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) or more.
It is important to recognize all the ways a child can be exposed to lead. Children are exposed to lead in paint, dust, soil, air, and food, as well as drinking water. If the level of lead in a child’s blood is at or above the CDC action level of 5 micrograms per deciliter, it may be due to lead exposures from a combination of sources. EPA estimates that drinking water can make up 20 percent or more of a person’s total exposure to lead. Infants who consume mostly mixed formula can receive 40 percent to 60 percent of their exposure to lead from drinking water.
ADEQ “focused the screening program on school buildings constructed prior to 1987. The screening program also includes schools located in areas ADHS has identified as at high risk for childhood lead poisoning, as well as schools with schools educating children five years of age and younger. Because lead in drinking water may not be a problem limited to older buildings, the screening program also will include a limited number of newer school buildings constructed per the current lead plumbing requirements to verify the standards are in fact protective and not impacting drinking water.”
The results of ADEQ’s testing have been difficult to find. Given the harmful nature of lead consumption on children, it is imperative that the public know where contamination has been found.
The ADI has compiled the results gathered to date by school district: