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AP Investigates: Drinking Water Unsafe At Thousands Of Schools

September 25, 2009
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This MSNBC.com report covers a recent Associated Press investigation that found contaminated drinking water surfacing at public and private schools in all 50 states - in small towns and inner cities alike. The AP found water at schools across the country containing unsafe levels of lead, pesticides and dozens of other toxins.

Roughly one of every five schools with its own water supply (well system) violated the Safe Drinking Water Act in the past decade, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency analyzed by the AP. Many of the same toxins could also be found in water at homes, offices and businesses. But the contaminants are especially dangerous to children, who drink more water per pound than adults and are more vulnerable to the effects of many hazardous substances, the report stated.

The EPA says the number of violations spiked over the last decade largely because the government has gradually adopted stricter standards for contaminants, such as arsenic and some disinfectants. Still, a violation is a violation, and the EPA does not have the authority to require testing for all schools. It can only provide guidance on environmental practices.

According to the article, the AP analyzed federal drinking water violations from 1998 to 2008 in schools with their own water supplies. The findings included:
  • Water in about 100 school districts and 2,250 schools breached federal safety standards.

  • California, which has the most schools of any state, recorded the most violations with 612, followed by Ohio (451), Maine (417), Connecticut (318) and Indiana (289).

  • The most frequently cited contaminant was coliform bacteria, followed by lead and copper, arsenic and nitrates.
School officials in the article say buying bottled water is less expensive than fixing old pipes.

Read the complete MSNBC.com article here >>

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