MPB News: Ensuring Safe Drinking Water for Children

Two universities working to encourage schools and more daycares to test water for lead

By Desare Frazier

The Environmental Protection Agency is working with communities to improve water quality. The EPA reports lead in drinking water can cause behavior, learning problems, anemia, hearing issues and slow growth in children.

Stephanie Otts is with the University of Mississippi‘s Sea Grant Law Center. They’re partnering with Mississippi State University Extension Service to conduct the study. She says there isn’t a federal law that requires testing water for lead at schools and daycare facilities. Her focus is on reaching out to schools and daycare centers in the Delta area.

“This has been something that advocates have raised for a long time as an important gap. I mean obviously if you’re worried about childhood exposures not knowing what lead levels there might be in schools where children spend a significant amount of their time is a concern,” Otts said. 

Lead leaches into water through corroding plumbing materials such as pipes and faucets. Ott says no levels of lead is safe for children. And in adults, the EPA reports lead can cause high blood pressure, decreased kidney function and reproductive problems in men and women.

Read and listen to the complete report here.