Lead Testing In Water Set to Begin for Schools Built Before 2010

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson announced that California public schools built before 2010 must test for lead in drinking water.

Last year, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 746, which requires community water systems statewide to complete lead testing in these older schools by July 1, 2019.

“Students need fresh water, nutritious meals, and regular physical activity to be ready to learn and succeed in class,” Torlakson said. “Cooperation with local water systems is critical to ensure proper testing.”

Even at low levels, lead may cause a range of health effects including behavioral problems and learning disabilities. Children six years old and younger are most at risk because the brain is still developing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10% to 20% of total lead exposure for young children comes from drinking water.

The most prevalent sources of lead in drinking water are from pipes, fixtures, and associated hardware from which lead can leach. California generally has newer water infrastructure than other parts of the nation and lead problems are rare, but recent events in schools led to the new requirement.

Several schools in San Diego County tested positive for lead in the water prompting districts to test entire campuses across the county to ensure the safety of their students.

In addition, several other schools across the state found lead in their water, and now all school swill need to be tested.

The State Water Resources Control Board, in cooperation with the California Department of Education, previously required all community water systems to test school drinking water upon request by school officials. Information is available on the California Water Boards website.