• New push to make sure drinking water in NC schools is lead-free

    By: Elsa Gillis

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The advocacy group, Environment America, graded several states on requirements for testing for lead in schools' drinking water and the response to finding it.

    “North Carolina is receiving an F, a failing grade when it comes to protecting our children at their schools,” said Drew Ball, state director of Environment North Carolina.

    [LINK: CMS Water Testing Program]

    North Carolina has no policy requiring schools to test for lead and that's why the schools scored an F.

    "I think it’s really sad in the year 2019 that North Carolina is receiving an F," said Brian Kasher, former manager of Environmental Health and Safety for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

    Kasher has led a push for the district to test for lead.

    CMS started voluntary testing in schools built before 1989.

    [High levels of lead found in drinking water at CMS school]

    [4 sinks on CMS properties tested positive for high levels of lead]

    In 2017, when water samples were tested in 58 elementary schools, 26 had levels of lead above drinking water standards.

    The district said it replaced, repaired or removed the sinks and fountains and continued testing at all older schools deemed most at risk.

    They said the lead findings don't necessarily mean students were at risk, but Environment North Carolina said any level is too high.

    "There is no safe level of lead," Ball said.


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    Two years ago, Environment North Carolina said state and communities should require testing at all schools each year and disclose all information about those findings onsite and online.

    Channel 9 expects to learn more Thursday about the progress made since then.

    “The Carolinas, as a whole, should be fairly progressive on this issue,” Kasher said. “We're talking about children, children's health, and frankly, academic performance.”

    There is a new push on the state level to do more.

    There is a House bill that would require testing at any school or child care facility built before 1991 and it would provide funding to make that happen.

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