Fountains of Trouble
Another place to do some drinking- water detective work? Schools. In 2008, the Los Angeles Unified School District discovered lead-contaminated water flowing from fountains in 92 percent of its buildings; in 2007, an investigation by officials in Washington, D.C., revealed that 10 percent of the city's schools were serving children water with lead that exceeded 700 parts per billion. "There's no reason to believe this isn't a problem in all 50 states," says Dr. Marc Edwards. "Lead contamination tends to worsen when water sits for a long time in a pipe, and schools are places where water can sit and sit -- during summer vacation, spring break, even long weekends."
The EPA is trying to curb these problems by alerting local officials to a program called the "3 Ts," which helps train staffers to identify problems, test for issues, and tell authorities and parents about results. Ask the principal whether your school follows the 3Ts. If it doesn't, get information about the program from the EPA's website and give it to school officials.