EPA Announces Partnership to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure at Schools and Childcare Facilities

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to further support efforts that reduce lead in drinking water at schools and child care facilities. In recognition of Children’s Health Month, the commitments made in this MOU will provide safer and healthier environments for children across the country.

“The Trump Administration is prioritizing efforts to identify and reduce lead contamination while ensuring children impacted by lead exposure are getting the support and care they need,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This MOU supports our Lead Action Plan and shows our commitment to work with federal and non-federal partners to ‘get the lead out’ of drinking water to the greatest extent possible.”

This new MOU provides a framework for a coordinated approach between critical partners across the federal government, tribes, water utilities and the public health community. The commitments of this new MOU support the Lead Action Plan, which provides a blueprint for reducing lead exposure and associated harms by working with a range of stakeholders, including states, tribes and local communities, along with businesses, property owners and parents.

“While America’s drinking water is very safe and the occurrence of lead in drinking water is rare, we want to stay vigilant in protecting the children in our schools and child care facilities from any potential occurrence of lead in drinking water,” stated NRWA Deputy CEO Matthew Holmes. “Rural and small communities are committed to collaborate with our federal partners, especially the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and USDA Rural Development, to implement the national 3Ts initiative to help empower the public on exactly how to protect schools and child care facilities from possible drinking water lead contamination.”

“My priority is for our BIE students to receive a quality education and study in safe facilities and environments, one critical environmental factor is safe drinking water. Indian Affairs is actively working to ensure that children in our schools are provided with safe drinking water,” said Tara Sweeney, Assistant Secretary- Indian Affairs.

“ASDWA’s members will be on the front lines in working with state public health and education agencies on lead testing in schools and child care centers, which is the first step to reducing lead exposure in these facilities. ASDWA, whose role it is to convene state drinking water agencies together to tackle common drinking water issues is well qualified and positioned to help, and we’re very eager to get started,” said Alan Roberson, Executive Director, Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA).

The MOU:
• Highlights each partner’s commitment to work to help ensure that children in schools and childcare facilities are provided with safe drinking water.
• Encourages supporting activities that provide education on health concerns associated with lead in drinking water; assists in the development of a lead testing program utilizing the EPA’s 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in School and Child Care Facilities; and helps schools and child care facilities establish a sustainable and effective lead in drinking water testing program.
• Promotes collaboration in the development of materials, training and tools to assist schools and child care facilities in reducing lead in drinking water.
• Allows for better identification of appropriate networks, associations and organizations to partner with to develop communication materials for schools and child care facilities.

To read the MOU and related information visit: https://www.epa.gov/safewater/3Ts

Since the 1970s, the United States has made tremendous progress in lowering children’s blood lead levels. Despite the overall decline of blood lead levels over time, lead remains a significant public health concern for some children because of persistent lead hazards in the environment. Recognizing that children spend large portions of their days in schools and child care facilities, EPA suggests that these facilities implement programs for reducing lead in drinking water as part of their overall plans for maintaining healthy learning environments.