While lead-based paint and gasoline has long been banned in the United States, lead and other dangerous pollutants can still come in contact with, and even be consumed by children. Pollution to the drinking water in schools has been a prominent topic over the last several years, and with the recent hurricanes and other natural disaster events, more concerns are being voiced as to the safety of students consuming water from drinking fountains in aging school buildings and those impacted by natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires.
Potential Effects of Lead and Other Water Pollutants
Pollutants in school drinking water should be a concern to everyone, as future generations are greatly impacted by the quality and safety of their educational experience. It follows that the modern educational focus on the health and well-being of students minds and bodies should include a close look at factors we often take for granted, like drinking water.
Water pollutants, even in small amounts, can have a negative impact on the children consuming them. Lead is the most common pollutant found in elevated levels, as it leaches from sources like pipes and plumbing into the drinking water. The initial effects of consuming lead, commonly called a silent poison, are not very easy to detect. Lead poisoning affects the brain and nervous system, potentially causing developmental delays, learning difficulties, irritability, weight loss, sluggishness, and fatigue.
Other dangerous pollutants that have been discovered in school drinking water include: coliform bacteria, copper, arsenic, and nitrates. While the pollutants have only been found in a small percentage of schools in the United States, it is a concern worth voicing, as available solutions can ensure that safe drinking water is available for all students.
Why Schools Are at Risk for Polluted Drinking Water
School buildings built before 1986 are at a particularly high risk for lead pollutants in the drinking water because of aging pipes and the water often left stagnant inside them. Rarely is water left stagnant for long periods of time in most homes, but weekends and holiday breaks often leave schools with large amounts of stagnant water while students are away. As a result, any lead from the pipes themselves, or lead-soldered pipes can leach or flake into the standing water and build to unsafe levels. Following this build up, any water that has not been flushed through the system could be potentially unsafe for consumption.
Of course, there is no safe level of lead, but there are preventative measures and solutions available. With the increase in awareness across the country, more and more schools are beginning to see water filtration and treatment as a necessary part of keeping students safe and healthy.
What Can Schools Do to Reduce Drinking Water Pollutants?
One expensive solution for schools interested in ensuring safe drinking water is to replace any aging piping. However, tight budgets and pressing timelines can make this solution nearly impossible. SSI Guardian offers a more affordable and incredibly effective tool for filtering drinking water, allowing schools to enjoy the confidence in clean water without the stress of completely replacing pipes, sinks, and fountains.
SSI Guardian carries the 3M Filtrete™ Max Under Sink System and the 3M Under Sink Full Flow Drinking Water System, both with the capability of reducing lead found in drinking water by up to 99%. These systems can be fitted to sinks and water fountains, and work to ensure that potential pollutants are removed from water being consumed by students.
While this is only one step in the process of ensuring that safe drinking water is available to everyone, your school can make student well-being a priority and be a part of the positive change in the country-wide conversation about safe drinking water in schools.