The Hawaii State Department of Education partnered with the Department of Health and Department of Human Services to test tap water at selected schools and childcare facilities for lead.
The Hawaii departments of Education, Health, and Human Services launched a joint project to test water at selected schools and childcare facilities for the presence of lead. The purpose of this project is to ensure safe drinking water at Hawaii public schools and child care facilities.
According to the Hawaii State Department of Education, the project which began in February 2021 will continue through the end of the year.
The project is part of a nationwide program established under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act of 2017 to test drinking water for lead in schools and child care centers.
The project is being funded by a $222,000 grant from the U.S. EPA. The state is contributing to the project with an additional $696,000 from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
“Hawaii has been fortunate in that we have not experienced the same types of challenges with lead contamination as we have seen in the continental U.S., so it’s important to note this project is a precautionary measure,” said State Toxicologist Dr. Diana Felton in the Hawaii State Department of Education press release. “Historically, public water systems in Hawaii have not had lead contamination. However, it is possible for lead to contaminate drinking water through fixtures and piping within a school or child care facility, particularly in older buildings, so we want to make sure keiki are safe.”
According to Dr. Felton, the samples will be tested by the health department’s State Laboratories Division.
“If any of the samples result in the presence of lead above action levels, the water at those schools will be shut off within 24 hours or the next school day and will no longer be available for use,” Dr. Felton added in the press release.
Follow-up testing will also be conducted and the cause of the lead contamination will be determined.
According to the Hawaii State Department of Education, the results of a school or child care facility’s water sampling will be sent to each facility or school to post in their administrative office. The results will also be posted on the WIIN project website.
Schools and child care facilities were selected based on the age of the buildings, the children served at the schools, whether they have had their drinking water tested in the past, and additional factors, added the press release.