As millions of kids around the country trade swimsuits and popsicle sticks for backpacks and pencils, parents should be advised that current research shows that contaminants in school drinking water can pose a threat to student health. Municipal water, which is not always optimal quality, may contain chemicals, bacteria, lead or microplastics -- all contaminants which have been found in tap and fountain water in schools nationwide.
Lead, in particular, is a major concern due to old metal pipelines and systems that carry water into schools. According to a Harvard study published in 2019, 44 percent of the nearly 11,000 schools tested nationwide had one or more water samples with a lead concentration at or above their state’s action level. What’s more, a lack of federal quality standards and statewide requirements for testing school water sources and pipelines means that schools may have an undiscovered problem or that test results may not always be public knowledge.
While students who use school water can be at risk of consuming unsafe contaminants, there are practical steps families can take to help ensure kids are hydrating safely while at school, one of which is using a filtered water bottle.
“Sending my children to school with a water bottle that filters out contaminants is an easy way to ensure my kids can always access clean and safe water at school,” says Tara Lundy, a mother of three and head of brand at LifeStraw, who arms her own children with a bottle that can filter fountain water on-the-go.
At a time when environmental health advocates are calling for the proactive removal of lead-bearing parts from schools’ drinking water systems, parents can start protecting their children’s health today with filtered water bottles.
An option designed specifically with children in mind is the LifeStraw Play featuring a two-stage filter that protects against bacteria, parasites, microplastics, some chemicals and heavy metals like lead. Using a filtered water bottle with this level of protection means that kids can safely and conveniently access water from any tap or public water fountain. The bottle is also great for use while camping or hiking and even traveling internationally, since it can remove bacteria and parasites. And because it removes bad tastes and odors from water, it is also a useful item for kids with sensory defensiveness who smell or taste water. The brand carries options well-suited for older children, teens and college students, too.
Benefitting not only the user, but children around the world, each LifeStraw water bottle provides a school child in need with safe drinking water for an entire school year. Their programs are implemented in places like Kenya, Mexico and India. More information can be found at lifestraw.com.
Parents can learn more about policies affecting the safety of drinking water in their child’s school, as well as access a Healthy Schools Checklist, by visiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s website at: www.epa.gov/schools.
For a safer, healthier school year, don’t forget to put a filtered water bottle on your family’s back-to-school shopping list.