A new map released recently by Environment Maine shows that here in Maine, of the limited testing done, 26 schools and daycares found unhealthy levels of lead in their drinking water. Unfortunately, Maine’s children are not alone; the map makes it clear that lead contamination of school drinking water is a pervasive, nationwide public health concern that we must demand our school districts and elected officials act upon.

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that severely impairs child development and behavior, even at low levels of exposure. There is no safe level of lead. Yet of the schools which have tested for lead in drinking water, many don’t even report lead below the dangerously high concentration of 15 parts per billion — this means that what the map shows is likely just the tip of the iceberg.

Luckily, we can take action now to mitigate this crisis. Schools can remove lead-bearing pipes, fixtures, and plumbing, and install certified filters on taps. We, Maine residents, must demand that our school administrators, municipalities, and politicians implement these preventative measures. Our children’s health cannot wait.

Caroline Bonfield

Environment Maine


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