CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — This week, North Carolina state leaders announced a new initiative to test the drinking water in thousands of schools and daycares. They plan to invest $150 million of their COVID money to test around 3,100 schools over the next three years.

Contaminated drinking water is an issue that has hit close to home in previous years.

Though North Carolina only requires schools to test their drinking water once, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools voluntarily tested their water in 2017 and 2018. They found 41 of 89 schools had lead levels about the state’s hazard threshold.

At the time of the testing, North Carolina’s threshold for lead in drinking water was 15 parts per billion (ppb). Since then, the state has lowered its lead hazard threshold to 10 ppb.

According to CMS’s website, any consumption point that had high levels of lead was either permanently removed or repaired and retested.

A report recently released by Environment America gave North Carolina a C- rating when it comes to protecting kids’ drinking water. South Carolina received an F.

“The older the water system, the more lead there is, unfortunately. And you can’t solve it by changing the pipes. It’s too late,” said water expert and OriginClear CEO Riggs Eckelberry.  

The Environmental Protection Agency claims that even low levels of lead in children’s blood can result in behavior and learning issues, lower IQ, slowed growth, hearing problems, and anemia.

Eckelberry says the best way for schools to remediate lead issues is to install filtration systems directly at the consumption point. However, if parents want a surefire way to keep their kids safe, it’s to bypass public drinking systems altogether.

“Parents should provide their kids with a filtration bottle and educate their kids to drink from that,” said Eckelberry.

A diet high in calcium and iron can also help fight lead exposure.