Awareness around lead in our drinking water in Oregon is rising and some schools in our state have had issues with high levels of lead in their drinking water. Given that children are especially susceptible to lead exposure because their bodies absorb metals at higher rates than adults, NeighborImpact thought it necessary to test all Head Start sites in our service area.
In June of this year, NeighborImpact tested all eight Head Start sites in Deschutes and Crook Counties for lead and found 100 percent of sites are lead free. “This is great news for the Head Start children, families, and staff,” says Patty Wilson, director of early care and education services at NeighborImpact. “We take the health and safety of our students and staff seriously and are very grateful that our results are within normal limits.”
NeighborImpact has eight sites and 24 classrooms in Deschutes and Crook Counties, including one co-located in M.E. Lynch Elementary School in Redmond. The Oregon Department of Education, Early Learning Division outlined key steps that should be taken by child care environments to keep children safe from lead in drinking water.
1. Identify sources of lead: Early learning environments should test all taps used for drinking or food to identify any lead problems. Follow the Environmental Protection Agency’s 3 T’s Revised Technical Guidance to ensure that samples for lead are collected properly and from the right places. Use an Oregon Health Authority-accredited drinking water laboratory to analyze samples for lead.
2. Stop Access: Prevent access to water taps that have more than 15 parts per billion (ppb) of lead. This should include shutting off taps, covering water fountains, and providing bottled water to students and staff members.
3. Communicate: Make results from tests for lead in water available to students, families, and the community as quickly as possible.
4. Mitigate and correct: Replace the sources of lead in building plumbing. Again, EPA 3T’s Guidance should be followed.
For more information about our lead testing or about the NeighborImpact Head Start program, please contact Patty Wilson at 541-323-6519 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About NeighborImpact: Since 1985, NeighborImpact has been a leader in developing solutions and bringing resources to Crook, Jefferson and Deschutes County. The agency offers a diversity of services meeting basic human needs for food and sh elter, while enriching people’s lives by providing access to increased education, skills, and hope for the future. NeighborImpact is a private nonprofit organization that receives federal, state and local grants, foundation grants, donations from individuals and business in our community. To learn more about NeighborImpact, please visit www.neighborimpact.org.