Failing our children: lead in U.S. school drinking water

New Solut. 2010;20(1):25-47. doi: 10.2190/NS.022010eov.


Lead is the most prevalent toxicant in U. S. school drinking water. Yet for the vast majority of schools, federal regulation for testing taps and remediating contamination is voluntary. Using school case studies, this article discusses the regulatory vacuum that leaves children unprotected from potential exposure to very high lead doses through consumption of school water. Controlling lead hazards from water fountains, coolers, and other drinking water outlets in schools requires improved sampling protocols that can capture the inherent variability of lead release from plumbing and measure both the particulate and dissolved lead present in water. There is a need to reevaluate the potential public health implications of lead-contaminated drinking water in schools. Accounting for this misunderstood and largely overlooked exposure source is necessary in order to better understand and address childhood lead poisoning in the U. S.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Health Education / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Lead / analysis*
  • Local Government
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Schools / organization & administration*
  • State Government
  • United States
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Pollution, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Pollution, Chemical / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Water Supply / analysis*
  • Water Supply / legislation & jurisprudence


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Lead