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Child Care Facilities and Schools Lead Testing Program

To promote public confidence and to help childcare facilities (daycare, pre-K, Head Start) minimize child exposure to possible high levels of lead in drinking water, the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR), Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) is assisting these facilities with voluntary testing for lead in drinking water. The program is funded by a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and began in 2020.

Additionally, after a successful three-year sampling effort in 2017-2019, ADEM and the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) resumed sampling of drinking water in the State’s public schools in the fall of 2021. This partnership is also funded by a grant from EPA. To assist with both the childcare and school facilities testing program, ADEM has recruited the Alabama Rural Water Association (ARWA) who will be hosting training sessions for facility personnel on the recently revised 3Ts program and provide on-site technical assistance as needed.

Childhood exposure to lead has long been a concern of researchers and medical professionals. While public water systems are required to conduct rigorous testing to ensure the water, they produce meets all health-based standards and is non-corrosive, there are no state or federal requirements for childcare centers or schools to test for lead in drinking water. This program will provide parents and facility staff with the information they need to make informed decisions regarding lead exposure in drinking water.

EPA finalized the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions on December 17, 2021, which includes a requirement for public water systems to sample all childcare and elementary schools and conditionally secondary schools they serve. This program provides and excellent opportunity for childcare facilities and school to be prepared to work with their water systems to establish meaningful sampling programs.

During the testing program, representatives from ADEM and partnering agencies and organizations will visit staff from the facilities and schools. These visits will consist of an introduction to the program, instructions for sampling, and a sampling kit, which is returned to the state drinking water laboratory for analysis. ADEM will send a copy of the results to the facility/school and post a quarterly report of all results to this web page. Facility/school representatives can then share the results with parents and other facility staff. In the event a result exceeds the Action Level of 20 parts per billion, ADEM will provide additional information to on evaluation and remediation as needed.

Childcare Lead Testing Results 7/21/23
School Lead Testing Results 7/21/23

EPA’s 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water
The sampling program will utilize EPA’s 3Ts – Training, Testing, and Taking Action – along with a state lead action level of 20 parts per billion – as a guide in planning, sampling and communicating results. The 3Ts provides extensive information for schools and child care centers on how best to determine if facilities are vulnerable to lead exposure in drinking water and if needed, how to prioritize action to mitigate that exposure. Each facility visited during the program will receive instructions on how to use the 3Ts program to sample and report results.

Information for Participating Child Care Facilities
Before sampling, we recommend that facilities watch the sampling video and carefully read the sampling instructions linked below. If questions remain, please check the EPA 3Ts site for more information. If there is a problem with the sampling kit or if you need further assistance, please contact the Drinking Water Branch at (334) 271-7773.

EPA 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water Toolkit
EPA Child Care Facilities Factsheet
Lead Sampling Instructions
Chain of Custody Form

2017 – 2019 ADEM Lead Testing in Public Schools Program

In March 2016, ADEM and ALSDE joined together to develop a voluntary school testing program in the absence of any federal or state regulatory requirement. The Master Plan was finalized in December 2016 and a detailed Sampling Plan posted on ADEM’s website. The goal of the program was to test approximately 1,500 public schools, consisting of approximately 8,000 buildings.

The Sampling Plan for this program was based on an earlier version of the 3T’s technical guidance described above. All samples were collected by the school system, a certified laboratory, the public water system that served the school, or an entity approved by ADEM. Training was available from ADEM, ARWA, or the Rural Communities Assistance Program (RCAP). The plan called for sampled to be collected during the hotter months (August, September, April and May), as that is the time of year that lead levels would be expected to the highest.

All samples were analyzed by state-certified laboratories. All results available for inspection can be found in the Department’s eFile system. (See http://app.adem.alabama.gov/eFile/ and select Media Area "Water", check "Custom Query", and select document category/type "SCHLAC").

Approximately 1,200 public schools submitted samples during the program and 99.5% of the samples collected and analyzed had lead levels below the action level established for schools. Half of the schools had lead levels below detection limits. ADEM worked with the schools that had results over the action level to ensure the affected fixtures were taken out of service, replaced and/or resampled to acceptable levels.

View a summary of the 2017-2019 program results here