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Hundreds of Schools Fail Lead Tests Nationwide, EPA Data Shows

Hundreds of Schools Fail Lead Tests Nationwide, EPA Data Shows

Eric Schulzke,Deseret News

Parents who thought that the lead contamination in the water supply of Flint, Michigan, was someone else's problem might want to think again, according to a new report by USA Today.

USA Today reports that an "analysis of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data showed about 350 schools and day-care centers failed lead tests a total of about 470 times from 2012 through 2015."

Lead, a highly toxic metal that causes brain damage in young children, was discovered in Flint's water supply. That crisis was spurred by a 2014 shift in the city's water supply to highly corrosive city water that leached both lead and iron from old city pipes, as CNN explained. That problem went undetected until late last year, sparking outrage.

But as The Washington Post reported last month, lead levels in blood tests of Flint children are actually lower than in other parts of the country. Just 4 percent of children under 5 there tested with blood levels higher than the federal limit of 5 micrograms per deciliter, The Post reported.

"Elsewhere in the country," The Post noted, "12 states reported that a greater percentage of kids under 6 years old met or surpassed that threshold. The most egregious example is Pennsylvania, where 8.5 percent of the children tested were found to have dangerously high levels of lead in their blood."

"One of the huge issues in our country is that for decades, we used lead to create water pipes," said USA Today Network investigative reporter Alison Young as quoted by CBS News. "We need to be checking out our homes for lead in our pipes in the same way that we worry about lead-based paint."

"As long as we have lead, there will be some risk that lead will get into the water," David LaFrance, CEO of the American Water Works Association, told CBS News, noting that much of the problem comes from the lines that direct water from mains to schools and homes, many of which are still made of lead.

"But even if we remove all the lead service lines, there is still some risk that can occur if there is plumbing in the home that contains lead," LaFrance told CBS.

Email: eschulzke@deseretnews.com

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