RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — You already have a long check list of what you want your child’s day care or school to have.
You might think safe drinking water is a given, but it’s not usually tested. RTI International is doing just that with a new study, taking samples from schools and day cares around the state to test for lead.
“I do think a lot of parents assume there’s good water quality,” said Jennifer Hoponick Redmon, an Environmental Health Scientist at RTI.
Redmon came up with the idea for the “Clean Water for Carolina Kids” study. She says water quality came up in her own search for a child care center.
“I noticed that a lot of the childcare facilities are older and used tap water for children throughout the day,” said Redmon.
Buildings older than 1988 were built to different standards and may have more pipes with lead.
There is no required testing for lead in tap water for individual child care centers or schools in North Carolina.
“There’s a measurable amount of lead in these day care facilities but it’s not at that three part per billion level that a municipality might flag,” said Keith Levine, director of analytical sciences for RTI.
The federal Safe Drinking Water Act requires municipalities to periodically test public water supplies for a slew of contaminants, including lead.
But, Levine says there are gaps in those tests.
“It could be when the sample was taken, it could be what the water chemistry was, it could be the temperature of the water that was collected,” said Levine.
Levine says RTI’s testing can detect much smaller levels of lead than municipalities can. State legislators have voiced concerns about any amounts of lead in water.
Last year, CBS North Carolina reported on House Bill 1047that called for required testing of water in schools and day cares. It failed in committee.
CBS North Carolina reached out to three of the bill’s sponsors but haven’t heard back.
RTI hopes their study of samples from more than 100 schools and day cares across the state will help keep kids safe.
“Arming legislatures and regulators and school or daycare systems with facts about what the actual situation with respect to lead in the water is what we’re hoping to see,” said Levine.
RTI will also work with schools and day cares to find cost-effective ways to get rid of lead in water.
“There’s very simple things that can be done to make sure that they don’t have lead exposure, and they don’t suffer lifelong health effects because of that exposure,” said Redmon.
RTI is still looking for day cares and schools to participate in their study. Click here to learn more about getting involved.