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.
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.
How do I find out if my child’s school has tested the drinking water for lead?
Contact your school administrator to learn about previous or ongoing efforts to test for and reduce lead in drinking water. You can also check the status of the school sampling on the DEQ Lead Reduction in Schools Drinking Water Program webpage.
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 should I do if I am concerned about my child’s exposure to lead?
There is no safe blood lead level. In children, even low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, and impaired hearing. If you are concerned about your child’s exposure to lead, contact a health provider to learn more about blood lead testing. The only way to determine a child’s lead level is to have the child’s blood tested.