Lead-Free Schools

We’re working to ensure every single child in California has access to lead-free drinking water at school. (Photo: Fountain - jasongillman via pixabay CC0 Public Domain)

Every single child in California should have access to lead-free drinking water at school.

Events like the Flint water crisis have shocked people across the country and put a national spotlight on the problem of lead in drinking water. Yet despite this, California has been slow to ensure all children at school are fully protected from this danger. 

Lead is a highly toxic heavy metal that impairs how kids learn, grow, and behave. Even low levels of lead exposure can permanently damage children's brains, kidneys, and overall health. Put simply, there is no safe level of lead in water.

But in California, many school buildings were built using lead pipes and plumbing, back when we didn’t fully understand the danger. 

Now we do, and have banned the use of lead in new pipes and plumbing. But in the many schools which still have these old lead pipes or fixtures, lead can leach into the water that kids drink from fountains or bathroom sinks.

Our children shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of bad decisions we made decades ago — that’s just not a trade-off we should be willing to make.

But for many California students, this is the reality they’re faced with. For example, in 2008, drinking water at several Los Angeles area schools tested for extremely high lead levels, up to 400 times the federal safety standard. And in January, Sacramento State University had to shut off their drinking water fountains because of widespread lead contamination.

It's very possible that these kinds of problems are just the tip of the iceberg for California. Unfortunately, California schools aren’t required to perform regular and comprehensive tests for lead in drinking water, or to replace the pipes if there’s a threat of lead exposure to our kids. 

This isn’t right. Our children deserve better than to have their health and safety put in jeopardy when they take a drink of water at school.

That’s why CALPIRG is calling on the state legislature to ensure every single child in California has access to lead-free drinking water at school. We are calling for mandatory testing, public results, and funding set aside to fix the problems where they exist. 

It's hard to imagine a more fundamental public health protection for our kids, and they depend on us to help keep them safe. Help us make sure we can live up to this promise as parents, as a community, and as Californians.

Issue updates

Blog Post | Public Health, Food

EPA’s Pruitt Met with Dow Prior to Favorable RulingDev GowdaKara Cook-Schultz

On March 31st, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that his agency would deny a petition to ban the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos from being sprayed on food. He announced this decision despite EPA scientists’ earlier findings that concluded that chlorpyrifos, which is manufactured by Dow Chemical, can harm brain development of fetuses and infants after ingesting even small amounts. The news that the EPA would continue to allow the spraying of chlorpyrifos alarmed doctors and other public health officials, but what’s even more interesting is that according to several recent Freedom of Information Act requests, Pruitt met with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris at a Houston hotel just twenty days prior to making his controversial decision.

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News Release | Public Health

Statement on SC Johnson’s skin allergen disclosure announcement

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Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

#KickTheCan: BPA still found in many grocery stores’ canned foods | Dev Gowda

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L'Oréal: Pledge to Be Toxic-Free

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

Childhood Lead Exposure Bills to Watch This Week in CA Legislature

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

Childhood Lead Exposure Bills to Watch This Week in CA Legislature

This week the California Legislature is considering a set of bills dealing with children's exposure to lead. A recent Reuters story details how lead poisoning currently impacts children in hundreds of areas in Los Angeles County, from affluent neighborhoods to low-income areas. In a number of neighborhoods, more than 5% of children had elevated lead levels in their blood, a rate higher than that found in Flint, Michigan.

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

5 San Diego Schools Test Positive for Unsafe Lead Levels in Water

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

Most California Schools Aren't Testing Water for Lead

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Media Hit | Public Health

Op-Ed in San Diego Union Tribune: California must do more to protect kids from lead exposure at schools

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

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Report | CALPIRG | Public Health

CALPIRG Supports State Bill to Limit Use of Antibiotics in Farm Animals

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Comments on the Blue Shield of California Proposal to Increase Small Employer Health Insurance Rates, Effective July 1, 2013.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

CalHEERS: Protecting Consumer Data by Developing and Implementing Strong Physical, Technical and Administrative Security Safeguards

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Blog Post | Public Health

Calling for Big Action on Antibiotics in the Big Apple | Steve Blackledge

Last week, we were in New York City, where the United Nations General Assembly spent an entire day discussing antibiotic resistance, “the biggest threat to modern medicine.” Experts estimate that more than 700,000 people worldwide die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, including 23,000 in the United States—a number that could grow to 10 million globally by 2050.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Petition: FDA Needs To Act On Antibiotics | Emily Rusch

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Blog Post | Public Health, Antibiotics

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Blog Post | Public Health

What’s that toxic smell? One Father Clashes with the Chemical Industry | Anna Low-Beer

The movie Stink! originated with one pair of children’s pajamas that Director John Whelan bought his daughters for Christmas in 2011. The new pajamas, when taken out of their plastic packaging, smelled overwhelmingly of chemicals. That one smell prompted Whelan to look deeper into fragrance and the chemical industry’s use of secret and often toxic chemicals in our everyday products. He simply wanted to know – what’s in the stuff we buy? “It seemed like a common-sense question to ask…I’m just trying to find out what chemicals they would put on kids’ pajamas,” he said. A common-sense question, yes. One with a simple answer? Not so much. 

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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

Antibiotics: Yummy Yucky | Steve Blackledge

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