SALT LAKE CITY — Lead in drinking water can cause serious brain and nervous system damage, especially in children, which is why the Utah Legislature passed House Bill 21, calling for the elimination of any trace of lead in school drinking water.
This bipartisan legislation was sponsored by Representative Stephen Hardy (District 16) and Senator Jani Iwamoto (District 4), and requires samples to be tested from water fountains in every school across the state.
FOX13 got an exclusive look at the team in action that is testing every school in the state to keep children safe.
“If you don’t sample all you can do is guess,” said Lead-Free Learning Project Coordinator Dylan Martinez.
Martinez acknowledges that this lead-free learning initiative is time consuming, but says a lot of different people are working together to get it done.
Currently, task is approximately 25 percent completed, with a deadline at the end of 2023.
“Lead targets every single organ system in the body, but it’s particularly harmful to the brain and nervous system. So lead poisoning can result in slow growth and development, learning and behavior problems,” said Utah State Toxicologist Dr. Alejandra Maldonado.
While everyone is potentially at risk, Dr. Maldonado says that children under the age of five are most vulnerable.
“With lead poisoning you don’t necessarily children don’t necessarily look or act sick. So the only way to know whether they’ve been poisoned is to test them,” she added.
Martinez says it feels really good knowing that children will be drinking water from a school that has been tested and found to be safe.
Dr. Maldonado echoed these sentiments, saying, “What a great story to be able to say that all the schools in Utah know their drinking water is lead-free.”
Parents can track the levels in their children’s schools by clicking here, where all the data the teams collect will be posted.
Eventually, levels for every water fountain in every school across Utah will be found at this site.