The Conversation About Water We Should All Be Having with Our Kids

    Published: June 21, 2016

    The Conversation About Water We Should All Be Having with Our Kids

    I’ve been increasingly concerned about lead and contaminants in my children’s drinking water, as I’d been following the Flint, Michigan water crisis long before the issue hit the mainstream news. My reading and research quickly led to the frightening conclusion Flint was anything but an isolated incident. Are my own children at risk?

    The frightening answer is that yes, they probably are. We’ve had a whole house water filter for several years, so I wasn’t worried about out home’s tap water, but what about the water they drink at school or day care?

    An article published by USA Today provided me with an answer that, while unwanted, wasn’t really unexpected. An analysis of EPA data indicated 350 schools and day care centers tested positive for lead contamination 470 times between 2012 and 2015, meaning in some cases locations yielded lead-contaminated water samples more than twice over that time period.

    Now I know, 350 doesn’t sound like an epidemic, given the thousands of schools and daycare centers scattered across the nation. And the number wouldn’t be cause for concern, except federal regulators only require ten percent of schools and a fraction of day care facilities to test for lead. Approximately 9,000 schools and 500,000 daycares are not regulated, because they get their water from sources which are required to test their own water.

    Flint’s an example of how well that can turn out.

    With this in mind, I sat down with my children and presented them with two reusable sports bottles. We had a long talk about lead, and how even a small amount of the toxin could damage their brains and bodies. I explained that, to be sure they were safe, they were now going to take filtered water to school instead of drinking from water fountains.

    I didn’t want to scare them, but I did want them to understand why lead was a problem. This lead to a rather long discussion on why people couldn’t just make the lead go away, and how water can look clean and still contain substances that can harm their health.

    We should all discuss potential health risks with our children as their access to drinking water in schools and parks go unregulated. More importantly, we should equip them with reusable, BPA-free water bottles filled with filtered water to keep them hydrated no matter where the day may take them.