Nutrition Policy Institute submits comments to EPA on school drinking water safety and lead testing

The Lead and Copper Rule (LCR)–a U.S. federal regulation under the administration of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)–­limits the concentration of lead and copper allowed in utility-provided tap water. The LCR provides requirements for various actions to monitor and reduce lead and copper content of tap water and to inform the public. The EPA recently undertook the first revision of the LCR in 30 years with the Trump administration publishing final revisions on January 15, 2021. However, on January 20, 2021, the Biden administration issued a Regulatory Freeze Pending Review memorandum to ensure any new or pending rules be reviewed by the new presidential appointees or designees and be re-opened for public comment. The EPA posted an extension of the effective date of the revised LCR on April 14 to enable the agency to seek further public input, particularly from communities most at-risk of exposure to lead in drinking water. Nutrition Policy Institute's (NPI) Christina Hecht and Angie Cradock of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health submitted one of the over 20,000 public comments providing recommendations for the final revision of the LCR. Hecht and Cradock's comment focused on school drinking water safety, providing recommendations based on their findings from a comprehensive study of states' school drinking water lead testing initiatives and lead test results. Their recommendations included: testing all taps used for human consumption in school and childcare facilities, rather than the subset–5 taps in schools, 2 in child care–required by the earlier proposed revision; a faster timeline for initial testing of all taps; and a lower action level for lead in tap water.

By Danielle L. Lee
Author - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Christina A Hecht
Contributor - UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute Academic Coordinator
By Lorrene Ritchie
Editor - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist