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

Media Hit | Public Health, Food

In-N-Out commitment causes media frenzy

In-N-Out just became the first burger chain in the nation to commit to phase out the use of routine antibiotics from its beef production!

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News Release | Public Health, Food

A Letter to In-N-Out

"Your customers care deeply about addressing antibiotic overuse on livestock. In order for your customers and the public at large to have confidence that the company has a strong antibiotics policy, we urge the company to take the following next steps..."

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News Release | Public Health

Over 50 Groups Call on Restaurant Chain to Change Beef Sourcing Policies

As a significant purchaser of meat, we believe that In-N-Out has a major opportunity and responsibility to address this growing public health threat. Our groups call on In-N-Out to make commitments on antibiotic stewardship.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

President's New Budget Proposal Good on Antibiotics | Bill Wenzel

From where I sit, there’s a lot to like in the President’s budget.

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Media Hit | Public Health

ABC News: Super-Sized Changes to the Golden Arches' Chicken Menu

Coverage of the McDonalds' announcement that they will stop serving chicken raised with antibiotics that are important to human health. "[Factory farms] are giving antibiotics daily to animals, in food and water, to prevent illnesses and promote faster growth. This is unnecessary, inappropriate and makes all of us less safe," said Emily Rusch with CALPIRG. 

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

McDonald’s announces plan to cut overuse of antibiotics in chicken

McDonald’s announced a new policy today to curb the overuse of antibiotics in raising the chickens that ultimately become McNuggets or other McDonald’s products.   Within two years, farming operations supplying McDonald’s USA restaurants will not be allowed to administer medically important antibiotics to chickens, a practice that is commonplace, even when animals are healthy. 

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

NEW POLL REVEALS OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF DOCTORS CONCERNED ABOUT ANTIBIOTICS USE ON HEALTHY FOOD ANIMALS

The overwhelming majority of doctors -- a total of 93 percent -- are concerned about the common meat industry practice of using antibiotics on healthy animals for growth promotion and disease prevention, according to a new poll released today commissioned by Consumer Reports and released by Consumers Union and U.S. PIRG.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Some Good, Some Bad in Obama Executive Order on Protecting Antibiotics

Today, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order – Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria. While the order takes several important steps necessary to control the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it misses the opportunity to call for critical reforms in the agricultural sector that are essential to protect public health.

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Media Hit | Public Health

CALPIRG Op Ed: California Resisting Real Action on Superbugs

Next year, the Legislature should act to ban the use of antibiotics on animals that are not sick. In doing so, we will take a significant step toward preserving the effectiveness of these “miracle drugs” for generations to come.

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Blog Post | Public Health

The Phantom, and Other Menaces | Anya Vanecek

In the midst of warnings that the post-antibiotic era is quickly approaching, we see evidence that it has already arrived.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Not-so-secret-Santas in Congress Using Spending Bill To Roll Back Health, Safety, Wallet Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

With spending authorization for the federal government set to end on December 11, Congressional leaders are working with powerful special interests on their not-so-Secret-Santa lists to use spending bills as vehicles to gut health, safety and wallet protections popular with the general public but not with Wall Street or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They know they cannot win a fair fight. So they’re loading up the must-pass funding bill with so-called “riders,” which are unrelated policies that couldn’t get passed on their own. Everything we fought for in Wall Street reform, including the CFPB, is on the chopping block. So are many other PIRG health, safety, wallet and democracy priorities.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Saving your bacon: takeaways from the W.H.O. announcement on the dangers of processed meat | Anna Low-Beer

When the World Health Organization announced last week that processed meat is linked to cancer, the world went wild. But we can all agree: we have the right to know about these dangers. So what about the thousands of dangerous invisible chemicals that saturate our daily products? Surely, we have the right to know about them too.

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Blog Post | Public Health

A Sub-stantial Achievement | Steve Blackledge

On October 20, Subway announced its plan to phase out antibiotics from its entire meat supply. This victory is just the next step of our mission to save antibiotics.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Victory! Subway Commits to Help Save Antibiotics

Yesterday Subway announced their plan to serve only antibiotic-free meat. Subway announced that they will completely phase out all antibiotic meat by 2025, with antibiotic free chicken made available by March 2016 and turkey by December 2016. This is a significant victory for public health.

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