Nancy Bernard just returned from a well deserved vacation and has shared additional details with WFIS and links to the DOH website content to address school questions regarding lead testing of water.  

Though Washington State is reported as having one of the lowest rates of lead service lines in the country, with an estimated 4 lead service lines per 1,000 people (see Governors Directive on Lead 16-06), it is still critical for schools to ensure student and staff safety.


Are schools required to determine how much lead may be present in their building’s drinking water?  What is the best way to get accurate information?

Nancy says:

Lead enters from a building’s plumbing system. It may be present in various parts of the plumbing system (such as lead solder, brass fixtures, and lead or galvanized pipes) and leach into water standing in the system.
The amount of lead in drinking water depends on how corrosive the water is and the materials used to construct the plumbing system. The age of the building does not matter, even new plumbing fixtures can leach lead into drinking water. The longer water stands in the plumbing system, the more lead it can absorb.
Reducing Lead Exposure in Drinking Water
  • If you have not used your water for several hours, run the tap until the water is noticeably colder. This will help flush out any lead that may have accumulated in the stagnant water.
  • Use only cold water for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula. Hot water may contain higher levels of lead.
  • Clean the screens and aerators in faucets frequently to remove captured lead particles.
  • Use only certified “lead free” piping and materials for plumbing when building or remodeling.
Rules and Regulations
Schools that own or operate their own water system must comply with the requirements of the federal Lead and Copper Rule. DOH requires these systems to sample for lead to minimize the risk of exposure from drinking water.
Most schools get their water from public water systems and are not required to meet the requirements of the Lead Contamination Control Act (LCCA).

In WA State, schools do not have to test their water for lead, but they should consider doing so. The only valid testing follows the EPA’s 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools: Revised Technical Guidance (PDF)  DOH has a simplified brochure:  Testing for lead in school drinking water systems (DOH331-261 PDF) with step-by-step instructions on collecting samples in a school building.

Schools who decide to test for lead should use a laboratory accredited by the state to analyze lead in drinking water. The Department of Ecology Lab Accreditation Unit has developed a list of drinking water labs by county (PDF).