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Not all schools have submitted lead testing samples, Maine CDC reports

The legislature passed a law in 2019 requiring schools to test for lead in their drinking water. Most schools performed the sampling in the 2021 to 2022 school year.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine CDC Drinking Water Program is reaching out to roughly 70 schools that still have not submitted test results for lead after a 2019 bill became law in the state legislature.

That law requires all K-12 schools in Maine to test drinking water for lead. Most schools performed the sampling in the 2021 to 2022 school year, but dozens did not, so the state extended the deadline to December 31, 2022 for schools to get that testing covered for free through state and federal dollars. 

One month since that deadline passed, about 70 schools still have not submitted results, according to Maine CDC Drinking Water Program director Amy Lachance.

The Maine CDC reached out to all those schools and offered to help.

"There's no safe level of lead. We are certainly concerned. This process is the first step towards understanding what is out there, making sure that the schools inform the parents and the teachers so that there is widespread knowledge," Lachance said.

Lachance said there is still money to help those schools cover the costs. She hopes this information gives families the knowledge they need to ask schools to fix the lead problems.

Maine's Department of Health and Human Services said there is no penalty for schools that do not test.

The director said there will be new federal regulations, and possibly federal funding in the future, to address fixing lead issues.

The Maine CDC has compiled a list of all fixtures tested in each school.

Lead exposure, particularly in young kids, can cause a host of physical and behavioral health issues, including:

  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Lower IQ and hyperactivity
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Anemia

Bathing and showering should be safe, even if the water contains lead over EPA’s action level. Human skin does not absorb lead in water.

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