Utah lawmakers are pushing for the state to test for lead in water at schools and child care centers.
The U.S. EPA awarded Utah's environmental quality department $434,000 to pay for lead testing in water at Utah schools and child care facilities.
Administrators for public and charter schools, Head Start programs and licensed child care facilities have until March 31 to apply for federal grant money to cover lead testing in their schools, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. All results must be made public and private schools are not eligible for the program.
There is currently no requirement to test lead levels in schools, reported KUTV. According to the state DEQ, schools and child care facilities are only required to test for lead if they serve as a public water system.
House Bill 88, however, would require lead testing for drinking water for all schools and child care centers, according to KSL. If a school tested above a certain level, action would be required.
In 2017, the Utah DEQ took a voluntary sample of 75% of Utah’s schools. 90% of the school samples showed trace levels of lead and only 2% had more than 15 parts per billion (ppb), reported KSL.
“We are committed to providing all Utah children with safe drinking water. Schools and childcare programs that test their buildings for lead reduce children’s risk of exposure and ensure a lead-free learning environment,” said Marie Owens, the department’s drinking water director.
The money allocated to Utah is from the EPA’s Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Grant program. Approximately $43.7 million in funding was delivered to various states, territories and tribes.
The state project will end on Sept. 30, 2021. School and childcare administrators that are interested in applying for testing can do so using the state program’s website.