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EPA awards grant to New Hampshire to test school and childcare facility drinking water for lead

Anita Martinz
Creative Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded $887,000 of funding to New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services to help schools and child care facilities test their drinking water for lead.

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Lead can enter water when plumbing materials that contain lead corrode. A variety of factors impact how much lead enters water, including the amount of wear in the pipe and the acidity and mineral content of the water. There’s no safe level of lead in the body, according to the CDC.

In 2018, the state adopted Senate Bill 247 to prevent childhood lead poisoning from water and paint. The act requires schools and childcare facilities to test their drinking water for lead in five-year periods. Organizations are not required to continue after three consecutive rounds of testing that show results below the EPA’s standard.

Schools and childcare facilities must notify parents and develop a remediation plan if the lead concentration is above the EPA standard. The EPA’s current lead action level is 15 parts per billion.

The 1986 Safe Water Drinking Act prohibited plumbing materials that are not “lead-free” from being used to carry water for public water systems, residential facilities, or non-residential facilities providing water for human consumption.

The act covers 490 public schools, 143 private schools, and 870 child care facilities. The EPA grant will provide funding for public schools and child care facilities.

The deadline for the first round of testing in New Hampshire passed in 2019. The Department of Environmental Services has received results from 90% of schools and 60% of childcare facilities, according to an NHDES spokesperson.

The grant will cover costs for the two additional rounds of testing that the department anticipates. It will also support a data portal where the public can review testing results and remediation efforts.

Funding to reimburse schools for lead remediation costs is also available through the New Hampshire DES, through a $1.6 million grant from the New Hampshire Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund.

Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.
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