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Utah school drinking fountains now being tested to prevent potential lead poisoning

A drinking fountain with water pouring out of the spout
Hamid Siddiqi

House Bill 21, a bill calling for the elimination of all traces of lead in school drinking water, has been passed by the Utah Legislature.

Sponsored by Representative Stephen Hardy and Senator Jani Iwamoto, the bipartisan legislation now requires the testing samples from water fountains in every school across Utah. Traces of lead in drinking water has been proven to cause nervous system damage and serious brain damage, especially when consumed by children.

Utah State Toxicologist Dr. Alejandra Maldonado says that lead targets every single organ system in the human body, but it’s especially harmful for the brain and nervous systems. Maldonado says that lead poisoning leads to slow growth and development and can also form learning and behavioral problems and that while everybody is at risk for poisoning, children under the age of five are the most vulnerable.

To avoid the potential reportings of lead in school drinking fountains, officials are now working to test each individual drinking fountain to catch any traces.

Dylan Martinez, Lead-Free Learning Project Coordinator, says that the lead-free learning initiative is time consuming, but lots of different people are working together for the cause. Currently, 25% of lead testing is completed with the deadline for everything being at the end of 2023.

Levels for every water fountain in every Utah school can be found here.

Jared Gereau is pursuing a Journalism major with an emphasis in Social Media at Utah State University. He is planning on using his experience to pursue a career with USU Athletics sometime after he graduates. In his free time, Jared enjoys watching movies, playing games and creating content for his YouTube channel.