Free lead testing kits available for Nebraska schools and childcare facilities
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Nebraska schools and licensed child care facilities can now test for lead in their drinking water for free through a Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy program.
The testing kit would be able to identify any lead that may be present in fixtures, faucets, and fountains.
Sample kits with prepaid postage would be mailed to qualifying facilities and allow for kits the kits to be returned to the laboratory for free lead testing. Anyone can collect a sample from drinking water within the facilities and it only takes 15 minutes to complete. NDEE created a video on how to correctly take a lead sample. Qualifying facilities include all public, parochial, and private schools from pre-K through high school, and public and in-home child care facilities.
All schools and child care facilities are eligible to participate in the free lead sampling program but it will mainly focus on and prioritize populations that are most at-risk for lead exposure. The program will look for facilities that serve children 6 years old and younger, are public preschools, elementary schools and child care facilities in underserved and low-income communities, and were built before 1988.
The NDEE said identifying sources of exposure is crucial because childhood lead poisoning is preventable. Childhood exposure to lead may be associated with hearing and speech impairments, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, slowed growth and development, and adverse impacts to the developing nervous system.
NDEE said facilities that do find high levels of lead in their faucets can place a “do not use” sign over the sink or fountain to prevent students from using it or remove or replace the faucet completely.
Any facilities interested in sampling their drinking water should contact their local health departments to request test kits.
The free lead testing was first announced in August 2020 and remaining funds from the NDEE Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act grants would be used to fund the program.
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