Connecticut Receives $360,000 to Expand Program to Test Drinking Water for Lead in Schools
BOSTON (Nov. 4, 2021) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the State of Connecticut $360,000 to use for lead testing in schools in targeted Environmental Justice areas, where rates of childhood blood lead levels are the highest in the state. This funding was awarded to the Connecticut Department of Public Health through the voluntary Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN Act) Lead Testing in School and Childcare Program Drinking Water grant.
"Understanding where exposure to lead occurs is a critical first step in reducing blood-lead rates in children," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. "EPA's WIIN Act Lead Testing in School and Childcare Drinking Water Grant is a terrific resource for states like Connecticut to uncover and fix potential sources of lead in drinking water."
"The goal of our program is to ensure that children are not exposed to lead in drinking water while in school," said Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani. "We are using this funding to target some of the higher risk communities by testing the school drinking water to uncover and fix any problem areas where water may be impacted by lead."
The WIIN Lead Testing in Schools and Childcare Program was introduced in 2019 with $43.7 million in grant funds and was expanded in 2021 with an additional $26.5 million in grant funds to states, territories, and tribes nation-wide. Since 2019, EPA has awarded over $8.3 million to the New England states, of that $1,545,000 has gone to Connecticut.
Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) has identified five cities with the highest childhood blood lead levels and has developed a voluntary drinking water testing program for lead in the schools located in those cities. These cities contain schools classified as disadvantaged, and the WIIN Grant funding is targeting improvements in these Environmental Justice areas. CT DPH is partnering with local health directors in Hartford, New Haven, Meriden, Waterbury, and Bridgeport to provide free drinking water testing and technical assistance to schools in these cities. Any test results containing unacceptable lead levels will be addressed by the state immediately.
With the money that CT DPH received this year, they will expand the drinking water testing program focusing on other schools in the state where at least 50% of the children attending receive free and reduced lunch or are part of the Head Start program. This will include the prioritization of facilities serving younger children (ages 6 and under), underserved and low-income communities, and facilities that are older and more likely to contain lead pipe plumbing.
For more information on lead testing of drinking water: