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Daycares, schools must test water lead levels by end of May

A state law passed last year requires childcare centers to test for lead, and provides funding to fix problems if elevated levels are found.

COLORADO, USA — By the end of May, nearly all daycare providers and public schools in Colorado will have to test their water for lead because of a state law passed in 2022 that requires them to do it. 

With about 4,500 eligible facilities around the state, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) expects hundreds of tests. 

"Colorado has had other programs in the past that were voluntary testing of lead," said Margaret Talbott, CPHE's program manager for the Test and Fix Water for Kids Program. "We didn’t get a lot of participation, and we didn’t have any money to fix the problems that we found when we did the testing." 

This bill included funding for the tests and funding to fix or replace pipes and faucets as needed if elevated levels of lead are found. 

Of the 4,000 results, Talbott said some have come back elevated, but she said: "usually there's a story behind them." 

One thing CDPHE sees are elevated levels coming back from water fountains because schools haven't used them in several years because of the pandemic. 

"So sometimes if they’re turning them on, and they’re testing them for lead, we’re finding them to be pretty elevated but that’s because that water’s been sitting there for two or three years," said Talbott. 

Talbott advised anyone who is drinking from a faucet that hasn't been turned on in a while to let the water run for about 30 seconds to flush it out. 

At Fisher Early Learning Center in Denver, they have no plans to use their water fountains again, but they do have many faucets in their facility that they use to drink water from. 

"I’m planning to come into the building when nobody’s here so that nobody runs the water before I collect the water," said Yoshie Matsubara, the associate director at Fisher Early Learning Center. 

She has the test kit ready to go after signing up on the CDPHE website and going through the steps, like creating a blueprint of her building and indicating where the water source and faucets are. 

"Childcare providers are busy, you know, taking care of students, taking care of families, in addition to that this water testing process can be a lot to add," she said. "But you know we believe in, safety...to ensure the safety of the children and families and teachers who work here." 



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