Sign up with the Florida DEP to participate in a new lead-testing program.
Section 2107 of the federal Water Infrastructure Improvements for the National (WIIN) Act authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide financial assistance for states to develop voluntary lead testing programs to check drinking water in schools and child care facilities. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) applied for and is receiving this assistance through a grant from EPA known as the “WIIN 2107” grant.
According to DOH, even low levels of lead exposure in children contribute to behavior and learning issues. To avoid these adverse effects, the EPA recommends that all schools and child care facilities regularly test their drinking water for lead. If lead is found at any drinking water fixture at a level above 15 parts per billion (ppb), the EPA further recommends taking action to reduce the lead.
Florida’s new Voluntary Lead Testing Program for Schools and Childcare Facilities will allow qualifying selected child care facilities to benefit from this initiative at no cost. All participating facilities will receive:
- On-site drinking water sample collection and analysis.
- Educational materials on the health effects of lead in drinking water, methods to reduce lead exposure, proper methods for sample collection and preservation, and responding to elevated results.
- Guidance for effectively communicating with parents and the community.
- Assistance with development of a lead testing program following EPA’s “3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities” guidance (Training, Testing, Taking Action).
Due to the number of eligible facilities in Florida, all interested facilities may not be able to participate in the program. In compliance with EPA requirements, priority will be given to those facilities that volunteer for participation where children may be more vulnerable to lead exposure, including:
- Child care programs in low-income areas, such as those with at least 50% of children receiving free/reduced school lunch and Head Start Facilities.
- Programs primarily caring for children 6 years of age and younger.
- Facilities that are more likely to contain lead plumbing, such as those built prior to 1986 and those with evidence of lead plumbing materials.
The DCF Office of Child Care is committed to working with selected child care programs to ensure safe drinking water for students and young children. If you would like your child care facility to participate in this voluntary and cost-free program, or if you have any questions about the program or participation, please call at 850-245-8486 or email at: PWS@dep.state.fl.us.