Flint, Michigan sparked awareness for clean drinking water across the nation. The dark-colored water caused by lead and copper that residents began to drink in 2014 started movements in Michigan and throughout the country to make safe drinking water accessible to everyone.
Georgia was found to be among states with the least-safe drinking water by the National Resources Defense Council’s most recent report in 2015. Hundreds of violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act discovered in the same report put the state in fifth place for most violations in the country. Even though this report was from three years ago, lead-contaminated water is still being discovered, especially in schools.
Most schools in the United States have done minimal testing for lead levels or none at all. Like many other states, Georgia does not require schools to test the drinking water. They are encouraged to do so, but it is not enforced. There are ways to help minimize the amount of contaminated water students drink at school such as purchasing bottled water. However, there is no safe level of lead consumption.
When consumed by children, lead poisoning can cause serious health issues such as:
- Stunted growth and development
- Damage to the brain
- Learning and attention problems
- Physical symptoms including vomiting, constipation, fatigue or loss of appetite
Lead exposure and consumption is dangerous for everyone, but the health risks can be greater for children. Testing lead levels in water at schools can inform the community about the safety of what students are drinking so they can take steps to avoid the water or look for signs of poisoning if necessary. Safety is paramount to the student’s success at school and drinking contaminated water can negatively affect not only the school but the community.