Are all schools required to sample for lead in their drinking water?
All schools that meet the definition below are required to collect samples. This includes public and private schools with the exception of home schools. “School" means a building or structure or portion thereof occupied for the teaching of individuals, the curriculum of which satisfies the basic instructional program approved by the Board of Public Education for pupils in any combination of kindergarten through grade 12, but excludes home schools as that term is defined in 20-5-102(2)(e), MCA.
How will schools afford to pay for the sampling?
State of Montana will provide funding for the sample analysis through a grant from the US EPA to assist with testing for lead in drinking water at schools. Montana Certified Laboratories will bill the DEQ directly for the laboratory analysis costs.
Why did Montana go with an action level of 5.0 ug/L?
The EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agree that there is no known safe level of lead in a child's blood. School aged children, especially those six years of age and under are the most susceptible to the effects of lead. Montana is using 5.0 ug/L because it is the practical quantitation level (PQL) for lead. The PQL is the concentration at which a given analysis will be sufficiently precise to yield a satisfactory quantitative result. Or simply put it is the lowest concentration at which Lead can be accurately measured in water.
Is lead in drinking water the only potential source of lead exposure for kids?
No. Children can be exposed to lead from paint, dust, soil, air, and food, as well as drinking water. Lead can also be brought into homes on clothes and shoes after exposure from leaded dirt, and industrial processes that involves lead. Be sure to change and wash clothes, remove shoes, and shower to avoid tracking lead into the home from soil, work sites, or hobbies. If a child has an elevated blood lead level, it is likely due to lead exposures from a combination of sources.
What if my School is a Public Water System (PWS)?
Schools that are existing PWSs are still required to compile with Montana’s Lead Reduction in School Drinking Water Rule. Compliance samples collected for the federal Lead and Copper rule can not be used to satisfied the Montana rule. Samples are not interchangeable.
What if my school has already collected samples for lead in the drinking water?
If your school has already collected samples for lead, the results may be able to be used for this program if:
- The same sampling method was the same as the one required in this program.
- Samples were collected in a 250 ml container.
- Samples were analyzed by a laboratory that is certified to run lead in Montana.
Who can help me with my sampling program at my school?
A number of resources will be available to help schools with developing a sampling program. A number of guidance documents and tutorials have been developed to assist schools in implementing the sampling. These documents can be found on the Lead Reduction in School Drinking Water webpage as well as upon request. A number for trainings will be scheduled around the state to walk schools though the program. Schools can also contact the Lead Reduction in School Drinking Water Rule Manager with any questions (contact info below)
Reduction in School Drinking Water Rule Manager
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
1520 E. 6th Ave.
Helena, MT 59601
Schools can also contact their municipal water department for assistance. Municipal water systems are required to collect a variety of samples to maintain compliance with state and federal drinking water rules. They can be able to provide valuable information/assistance on how to coordinate with laboratories, properly collect and ship samples, and understanding laboratory results.