A new law decreases the amount of lead allowed in NH schools’ water

The minimum standard is now 5 parts per billion to prevent any level of poisoning
Water Faucet Dripping Stockimage

A new law signed by Governor Chris Sununu has changed the allowable quantity of lead in water at schools and licensed child care facilities. The minimum standard changed from 15 parts per billion to 5 parts per billion to prevent any level of poisoning.

Lead can be highly toxic; it can cause damage to the brain and nervous system. Usually, in the state, children ingest this metal from chipping paint in old houses, but the NH Department of Environmental Services officials say water can be another unsafe way to consume it.

In a press release, the Department said facilities that have not previously tested their water for lead have 30 days to do so, and they must be tested three times before June 30, 2024.

The facilities that test over 5 parts per billion have 90 days to submit a remediation plan to the Department. According to Lea Anne Atwell, who manages the Department’s Lead in Schools and Child Care Facilities program, replacing fixtures with something newer that is lead-free is often enough to get the lead out of the water.

“But sometimes there is more extensive work that needs to be done, like if they have lead solder in the plumbing,” said Atwell. She recommends schools contact the program to find the best solution.

The program is working with 550 schools and child care facilities to collect sampling and remediation data and provide support to make necessary changes.

Atwell points out that all the locations where kids drink, like fountains or sinks where they fill up water bottles, must be inspected because lead levels can change from faucet to faucet. She also recommends checking any source of water used in food preparation.

“I think it’s important to continue to reduce exposure because kids’ bodies can absorb lead more rapidly. We should care for their developing brains,” Atwell said.

Schools and child care facilities can find more resources here

This article is being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org. 

Categories: Health, News