Goal: Convince local and state leaders to protect schoolchildren from lead exposure.

Medical experts estimate that more than 24 million American kids will lose IQ points due to lead exposure. Our research finds many of these kids will be exposed to lead in their schools’ drinking water. That’s why we’re working to Get The Lead Out.

Highly Toxic, Especially For Children

The crisis that began unfolding in Flint, Mich., in 2014 provided a tragic reminder of the dangers of lead exposure. The drinking water of an entire city had been contaminated with lead. More than 8,000 children under the age of six drank lead-contaminated water.

But Flint was just the tip of the iceberg. Illinois PIRG Education Fund research has found that lead exposure is a national problem, and Illinois isn't immune. More than 110 Chicago schools and 22 percent of suburban schools have found taps exceeding 15 parts per billion (ppb) of lead, the level at which the EPA recommends actions are taken to reduce lead levels.

In all likelihood, these confirmed cases only scratch the surface of this problem. Most schools have at least some lead in their pipes, plumbing or fixtures. And where there is lead, there is risk of contamination.

Get The Lead Out

The only way to ensure safe drinking water for our children is to “get the lead out” of our schools and pre-schools. This involves proactively removing lead-bearing parts from schools’ drinking water systems—from service lines to faucets and fixtures—and installing filters certified to remove lead at every tap used for drinking or cooking.

These steps cost money, but our children's health is worth it. To convince state and local leaders to act, we’re running a joint campaign with Environment America to raise awareness, especially among parents and parent-teacher associations; doctors, nurses and other healthcare givers; and elected officials themselves.

In the meantime, untold numbers of kids are going to school and drinking water with lead in it. When we get lead out of a child’s water, we make that child’s future brighter and healthier. That’s something worth paying for.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
Get The Lead Out Of Our Schools

Contact your school and ask whether it has lead pipes or plumbing. Ask if the water has been tested for lead and to see all the results. Sometimes schools only report levels of lead in water above 15 parts per billion. But there is no safe level of lead in drinking water, especially for our children.

In addition, our national network is calling on states to “get the lead out” of schools' drinking water. Please urge our governor to take strong action to protect our children’s health.

Top photo: Lisa F. Young / Shutterstock