© Reuters


Flint, Michigan has become the epicenter of the lead water crisis in the United States, but hundreds of schools across the country have tested positive for unsafe lead levels in their water over the past three years, according to a new report.

In fact, 278 schools violated the safety levels for lead created by the Environmental Protection Agency since 2013, the Associated Press reported, citing its analysis of government data. In the past year alone, 64 schools tested for unsafe water.

About 90 schools had lead levels in the water that were at least double what the federal government considers acceptable, according to the data. The EPA states that lead levels over 15 parts per billion are unsafe ad require action.

Even these statistics may offer only a snapshot of the situation, since the data comes from schools and daycare centers that are required to test their water for lead. Ninety percent of schools in the US get their water from municipal systems, meaning local officials are responsible for testing the water at separate locations. If a school has its own water system, it’s responsible for testing, though a facility can be declared safe even if one drinking fountain is delivering unsafe water, AP reported.

The good news is that the source of the problem is fairly easy to pinpoint. Generally, lead gets into the water at buildings and schools that are older and were built to feature lead delivery pipes. The water can leach lead off the pipes and become contaminated, particularly over weekends when sinks and drinking fountains aren’t being used.

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