Safe Drinking Water

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Notes from the Backpack Podcast

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Lead-Based Drinking Water Poses Danger

Potable, or safe, drinking water is essential to the health of all children.

Although progress has been made by federal and state governments to reduce water pollution through the Clean Water Act (1972) and ensure tap water safety through the Safe Drinking Water Act (1974), recent water contamination incidents across the United States highlight the fact that children, particularly children who live and learn in high poverty communities, may be exposed to lead-tainted water in their homes and schools.

The EPA warns that exposure to even low levels of lead can cause developmental and educational problems.

Safe Drinking Water for Healthy Children

National PTA's Position

The National PTA, in recognition of the importance of safe drinking water to the health of all children, supports the following:

  • Careful preservation and protection of water supplies;
  • Strong, strict water quality standards that help assure a healthy environment for all children, regardless of race, education level or financial status;
  • Local, state, and federal legislation and regulations to maintain the highest possible levels of water quality;
  • Effective implementation of local, state, and federal water quality standards;
  • Legislation and regulations to allow cities, counties, and states to have higher water quality standards than the federal standards;
  • Right-To-Know legislation and regulations in order for the public to be more aware of the environmental health hazards in their community;
  • Regular water testing in schools and day-care centers for lead contamination

What You Can Do

To Avoid Lead Exposure

  • Determine if there is lead-based paint in your home. Homes built before 1986 are also more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder.
  • Ask your child’s school district to inspect the school’s water for lead contamination. Many school buildings in the U.S. are old and were built when lead pipes, solder or fixtures were allowed to be used.

If You or Your Child Have Been Exposed

  • Make a plan with your doctor for testing and treating your child
  • Contact your local health department

Webinar: Safe Drinking Water: What Families Should Know

Family members are invited to view this webinar to learn more about the issue of lead-based drinking water in school, the signs and symptom of lead exposure in children, how to advocate to change in communities and tools that are available to increase access to drinking water in schools. 

Learn More

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Basic information on lead in drinking water, and learn tips for how to protect your family through exposure testing and proper home maintenance.
  • (American Academy of Pediatrics): What parents need to know about blood levels in children and simple steps to make your home safer.
  • American Public Health Association (APHA): A 3 part webinar series on lead exposure and health, and links to contacting your Senator or Congressperson to advocate for better funding and resources.
  • Webinar: Child Lead Poisoning: Preventable Harm: Co-sponsored by the Coalition on Human Needs, First Focus, Children’s Leadership Council, Partnership for America’s Children, and the National Head Start Association. Provides expert evidence about the consequences of lead poisoning in children, examples of work being done in Flint and Philadelphia to stop this scourge, and timely information about Congressional proposals to fund the solutions.
  • (National Drinking Water Alliance) A coalition of nonprofits, academic institutions, advocates and individuals, works to ensure that all children are able to access safe water in the places where they live, learn and play.