SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Some legislators in Missouri are working to eliminate dangerous levels of lead in school drinking water.
One Missouri House bill would require schools to test their drinking water to detect the toxic toxin, and then mitigate the problem if dangerous levels are found. This relief will include replacing old systems and adding filters.
Lead can harm anyone, but it can harm even more children in even smaller amounts.
“For kids, it can actually lower their IQ level,” Jeff Pinson said with Missouri’s natural resources department. “It can cause behavioral problems. And all of that at a fairly low level that it can actually happen. Adults can have an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney or nervous system problems.”
Pinson said lead becomes a concern as it reaches levels of 3.5 micrograms per deciliter. He said it was once five micrograms per deciliter immediately after the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Before that, it was 12 micrograms per deciliter.
Pinson said there are three main ways lead can be found in water.
“First of all, it could be lead and a water source,” he described. “And it’s not a very big event in the country and in a nation that is very, very low. So you can also get lead from a lead service line where the water sits in a lead service line for a long time, actually over six hours and you can get high lead levels from it. Then also from the tap. Not used for six hours or more, then you can get a little more lead flowing from this facility. “
Some schools are already testing their own water.
“I think some of those who checked out made some replacements for some faucets in their schools, but a lot of them found it was just an excessive stagnation,” Pinson said.
He said problems can be solved by rinsing a faucet, meaning a person turns on the faucet for 30 seconds to two minutes before using the water for drinking or cooking. Pinson said the DNR sends a letter to schools across the state reminding them to do so after the summer.
“At school there are not really a lot of people who are there during the summer months to really use the water,” he said. “So the water sitting on this pipe is standing for a very long time. They need to do a big rinsing program before they start.”
While some schools may perform their own tests, service providers or cities do so in many other cases whenever a school or someone else has a concern. The EPA also has mandatory lead tests every three years.
“We do thousands upon thousands of tests every year across the system to make sure the water quality we have is safe and falls under EPA guidelines and other regulations,” said Joel Alexander of Springfield City Utilities. “If there’s ever a concern among residents or business or anything, we want to know about it.”
Alexander said CU can perform the tests for its customers if they ever have concerns. He said Springfield had no major problems with lead in drinking water. The same is true of Ozark.
“We basically replaced all of Lead’s recognized water services during the 1991 to 1993 time frame,” said Samatha Payne at Ozark Municipality. “When we do routine updates, we go back and check again to make sure everything meets the requirements. We haven’t had any issues with lead materials since before 2014.”
Removal of lead services lines has been a big boost recently, but often the problem stems from systems inside older buildings.
“In some of the old houses, especially in the old areas, there can still be lead inside the same pipes that are inside a dwelling house,” Alexander said.
This is part of the reason why legislators seek to require schools to conduct a test, in case old systems within schools.
The EPA is also updating some policies to increase testing within schools.
“As we progress towards this here in the next year or so, we will actually be doing more in-depth testing within the schools,” Alexander said. “That does not mean we do not do it if it is not necessary now. But most of the time, we respond to those when someone thinks there is a problem that needs to be checked. Making sure it’s safe here in schools is something we need to make sure we do. As we move towards these new guidelines, “We will implement these processes and see exactly what we have to do. But we are happy to do it.”
The bill will be discussed again on April 4th.
To report a correction or typing error, please send an email email@example.com
Copyright 2022 KY3. All rights reserved.