Testing for Lead in Washington Schools

Testing for Lead in Washington Schools' Drinking Water 

As part of the state’s efforts to protect the health of all children, the Washington State Legislature passed the Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill (E2SHB) 1139 in 2021. This bill addresses concerns about lead in school drinking water as part of a broader effort to reduce children’s overall exposure to lead in the environment.

Under this bill, the drinking water must be tested every five years in all public schools built, or had all plumbing replaced, before 2016.

The Tahoma School District expects the Washington State Department of Health (WADOH) to test our facilities’ drinking water for lead in the next 2 to 5 years.

Why is lead concerning?

Young children are especially vulnerable to lead exposure. Their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults and are more sensitive to its harmful effects. Even from very low levels of exposure to lead, children may experience lower IQ levels, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, or other harmful health effects that can impact learning, development, and behavior. Children are exposed to lead from a variety of sources in their environment including water, dust from old lead paint, soil, and on the clothing of parents who work in certain industries. Since each source contributes to children’s overall lead exposure, it is important to reduce exposure from every source as much as possible.

Visit the Department of Health’s website to learn more about what you can do to prevent lead exposure for children and what to do if you believe your child may have been exposed to lead.

How will you know the results of lead testing in the Tahoma School District? 

Our school district’s drinking water has not been tested and we plan to test our water for lead within the next five years in collaboration with WADOH. When test results are available, you will be able to find them here.

We will keep you informed as we learn more about the schedule for testing in our school. Since water sampling happens very early in the morning (before the school day begins), it will not affect school schedules or classroom instruction time.

What are we doing to protect children from lead?

If test results show high lead levels at outlets (such as faucets or drinking fountains), we will develop an action plan to address lead contamination at those outlets in consultation with the Washington State Department of Health (WADOH), following EPA guidance known as the 3Ts. WADOH will need to approve the plan within six months of getting our test results, and we will make the plan available for your feedback before the deadline. If testing does not show high lead levels, we will not need to develop an action plan.

If you have additional questions about testing for lead in Tahoma’s drinking water, please contact Kyle Hood, Assistant Director of Operations at [email protected].

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