New grant helps Iowa schools, child-care centers test for lead in drinking water
DES MOINES – The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the Iowa Department of Education a $460,000 grant to help public schools and child-care centers test drinking water for lead and learn more about reducing lead exposure.
The EPA’s grant program, which is voluntary for schools and child-care providers, is designed as a first step toward reducing lead exposure in children. Exposure to lead can damage the developing brains and nervous systems of children, especially those under age six, according to state health officials.
“This grant program will raise awareness of water quality through voluntary lead testing and education, which will help ensure healthy learning environments for students in Iowa schools and child-care centers,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said.
The grant will be administered by the Iowa Department of Education in partnership with the State Hygienic Laboratory, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The grant includes enough funding to cover the participation of up to 40 percent of public schools and child-care sites in Iowa. The money will pay for lead tests for participating schools and child-care sites, as well as re-tests and education resources for those with lead levels above state and federal actionable levels.
The Iowa Department of Education will prioritize funding for public schools and child-care sites that serve children under age 6, were built before 1985 and have 50 percent or more of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Beyond that, funding will be available to all public schools and child-care providers on a first-come, first-served basis.
Test results will be made public by the state and by participants.
Lead can be found in various sources, including chipped paint, household dust, soil and water. Lead in water can be caused by leaching in pipes, lead solder on indoor plumbing, and from bass faucets and fixtures, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
For more information on the grant program, visit the EPA's website.