TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - More than 1000 schools across Arizona will have their drinking water tested for lead by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
Of the 1,033 schools being tested, more than 200 are in Pima County.
This is the first time ADEQ has conducted study like this. They've allotted $850,000 for this project, and are working with other agencies such as the Department of Health Services and the Department of Education to carry out the testing.
The goal, according Trevor Baggiore, ADEQ Water Quality Division Director, is to be proactive and determine if lead in drinking water is a problem that needs to be addressed.
"The schools that we are testing are being served by separate water systems. Meaning it could be the city, or could be a private water system. Those water systems can be in complete compliance with all the rules but yet there could be a problem at the school because of the schools plumbing that would be causing lead to be in the water," Baggiore said.
Baggiore said three factors played a part in which schools would be tested.
"First was buildings older than 1987 because they have more likelihood of having lead in the materials with which they were built. Second is those that have younger kids, especially those with some sort of day care or pre-kindergarten programs. And then we also prioritized based on Department of Health Service, they've identified some at risk zip codes," Baggiore said.
Schools will either have an ADEQ official or school representative get a sample of the water and send it off to a lab for testing. If the results show a level higher than the acceptable federal standard, the schools will have to take immediate action.
One parent we spoke to said she's glad to hear the state is taking a proactive approach to make sure students are safe.
"They should test them. It's a concern. Lead is very bad in the first place," said Ana Moreno. "They should be doing this at all types of schools. From elementary to high school. Even colleges," said Ana Moreno, a parent.
The testing began earlier this month and will run until June.
To see the full list of schools and the results of the testing click here.
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