Madeline Middlebrooks, our Equal Justice Works Fellow, has been working on lead contamination issues present in St. Louis area schools. Across the United States, children are being exposed to dangerously high levels of lead at school. Children who attend schools in the St. Louis area also suffer this injustice. This occurs because, under US EPA’s 1991 Lead and Copper Rule, if a school receives its water from a public water utility, it is not required to test for lead in potable fixtures inside the school building. Lead may leach into drinking water after the water enters the building.
To address these concerns EPA is proposing to revise its Lead and Copper Rule. The newly proposed rule is a step in the right direction. Under the proposed rule public water utilities will be required to conduct sampling at elementary schools one time over a five-year period and upon request thereafter. Regrettably, the new rule does not require any remedial action if high levels of lead are found, nor does the proposed rule require any testing for lead in secondary schools.
Although EPA’s proposed revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule are a step in the right direction, they are insufficient to protect children from lead exposure.
Madeline has submitted formal comments to EPA and has engaged EPA at community listening sessions over these deficiencies. If EPA does not cure the defects in the proposed rule, children still will be exposed to dangerous lead levels while attending school.
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