Are Your Kids Drinking Water at School?

There are so many things to worry about when your kids go back to school. You shouldn’t have to worry about  water quality and safety, but, unfortunately, you need to.  It’s a huge issue with potentially dire consequences. And if you think water quality issues don’t apply to you because your childmercola article - drinking fountainren’s school is in the city, therefore on a municipal water supply, think again.

Did you know that only schools using well water are regularly tested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?  So, that means drinking water for all the other schools in the US – the ones who get their water through local utilities – aren’t regularly monitored.

National Geographic reports, “For instance in September 2009, the Associated Press published a nationwide investigation showing that the drinking water in schools in 27 states is contaminated with lead and other toxic substances from lead-soldered pipes generally installed before 1985.”

Phys.org says, “Experts and children’s advocates complain that responsibility for drinking water is spread among too many local, state and federal agencies, and that risks are going unreported. Finding a solution, they say, would require a costly new national strategy for monitoring water in schools.”

In Wyoming this week, cryptosporidium is infecting an unusually high number of people, according to the Caspar Star Tribune. On a good note, there’s a simple fix. Cryptosporidium is notoriously chlorine resistant, but UV water purification systems inactivate the microscopic parasite. Schools that have light commercial UV systems installed also protect against parasites like giardia and potentially fatal legionella. UV also doesn’t use chemicals to treat water, like chlorine, so there are no potentially dangerous disinfection by-products.

Let’s look at what is going on in Oklahoma right now.  The Associated Press reports blood worms (up to an inch long!) in the municipal water supply in Colcord, a town 80 miles east of Tulsa.  According to Business Insider, “Erin Hatfield, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, said it’s uncommon for red worms to show up in a water system in the state, though it’s fairly common in the southeastern United States.”

To protect against nasty waterborne bugs like blood worms, schools could use water filling stations with the correct filters and UV disinfection.  Banthebottle.net reports that students at, “North Island College are returning to campus in September to find new water bottle refilling stations have replaced old fountains.” (Carrying your own refillable bottle also helps with issues of obesity related to sugary drinks.) It’s also a cost-effective option, in a time when education across the country is being hit hard by budget cuts. Apparently, Castleton State College, Eastern Kentucky University, and Fayette County Schools  are already saving money by banning bottled water and using refill stations.

What to do if you’re concerned about the water your child (ren) may be drinking at school:

  • Arrange to meet with your Parent/Teacher Association or book time with the Principal to address your concerns.  Or, get your children to start a group to address the concerns.
  • Ask for a full water test. (If the school doesn’t know who to call for this, please call us at 1-800-265-7246 or email us at info@viqua.com and we’d be happy to help set it up).
  • The correct dose and filtration is critically important, so when it comes to installing a water purification system, be sure to use a water treatment professional.    Address any issues at point of entry or even point of use for drinking fountains, cafeterias and showers (some pathogens can be inhaled).  Usually some pre-treatment filters and a UV system will help.  UV inactivates e-coli, rotavirus, legionella (resistant to chlorine), cryptosporidium, salmonella, shigella, giardia, and so much more, making tap water safe for everyone.
  • If budgets are the issue, do some fundraising while teaching your children about water, water quality, water scarcity, and community.  You can always go to sites like http://fundly.com/ for online, viral fundraising.

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1 comment… add one

  • Treasure Haines September 20, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Increasingly, it is the job of parents and citizens to be aware of, and to be proactive about, risks such as water quality in schools and other public areas. Despite the work of municipalies and higher-level governments to ensure the safe provision of drinking water, health and safety oversight in schools and daycares (as exemplified by the recent issue in Toronto with the unlicensed home daycare http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/listeria-among-health-violations-found-at-vaughan-ont-daycare-where-two-year-old-died/article14435112/), it’s a monumental task and we cannot expect for it to be without hiccups or hitches. It’s important for us to do our part!

    No man is an island, as the old saying goes, and by working together to identify and systematically eliminate these potential threats, we as communities can be much more effective in creating a safety net that protects all children. Something as “simple” as safe water treatment in schools could be the difference between sick kids and happy, thriving kids. It’s well worth it!

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