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An Associated Press investigation has found widespread contamination in the drinking water at schools. The contamination was “most apparent at schools with wells, which represent 8 to 11 percent of the nation’s schools,” the AP reported. “Roughly one of every five schools with its own water supply violated the Safe Drinking Water Act in the past decade, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency analyzed by the AP.” We suspect that most schools using well water are in rural communities.
The AP reports that in “California’s farm belt, wells at some schools are so tainted with pesticides that students have taken to stuffing their backpacks with bottled water for fear of getting sick from the drinking fountain.” There are 132,500 schools and those with unsafe water represent only a small percentage of those. California had the most violations, followed by Ohio, Maine, Connecticut and Indiana.
The AP said the problem of tainted school water has “gone largely unmonitored by the federal government.” “It’s an outrage,” said Marc Edwards, an engineer at Virginia Tech University who has been honored for his work on water quality. “If a landlord doesn’t tell a tenant about lead paint in an apartment, he can go to jail. But we have no system to make people follow the rules to keep school children safe?”