Cheryl Diaz Meyer/For The Washington Post
Montgomery County created a bill last month that aims to lower the lead levels in drinking water at MoCo schools. The goal is to get the lead levels to the same standards as bottled water.
The current levels of lead in school water fountains are about four times higher than bottles of water. In 2018, out of the 13,576 water fountains tested at over 200 MoCo schools, almost 2% came back at elevated levels. Some fountains had readings that came back as high as 253 parts per billion (over 50 times the amount of bottled water).
“Although I rarely, if ever, drink the school’s water, this makes me even less likely to drink it. It also makes me disappointed in the school system as it is supposed to be their job to ensure our safety,” senior Hannah Mullings said.
According to the EPA, even small amounts of lead can cause hyperactivity, behavior and learning problems, a lower IQ, slowed growth, and several other irreversible damages as well.
“Fixing this issue is important. MCPS should be giving students the highest quality they can. They would be the ones responsible if any damage is done to the development of their students,” senior Nikki Ramirez said.
This is a huge concern to students, so MoCo is willing to comply with the bill if it is passed almost immediately. Most, if not all, fountains will be shut off until adjusted, or replaced, within two weeks of the passing of the bill.
“They should maintain the quality of water that we will feel safe drinking,” senior Merline Broadnax said. The health of students is a priority of the Montgomery County school system, and adjusting the amount of lead that is being potentially consumed by students is a great step in achieving an overall safer learning environment.
“I hope this issue will become a main priority for MoCo and will be solved as quickly as possible,” Mullings said.