Take for example, a recent breakthrough study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uncovers over the last ten years the drinking water at thousands of children’s schools across America has been found to contain unsafe levels of lead, pesticides and dozens of other toxins. The U.S. infrastructure has fallen apart literally needing an estimate $1.7 trillion to upgrade and repair clean water systems, bridges and sewage comments James Rickman, CEO of iHuman Evolution.
As results rolled into iHuman Evolution’s headquarters from an A/P investigation that found high levels of contaminants have surfaced at public and private schools in all 50 states, both in small towns and inner cities alike. Shockingly, the problem has gone largely unmonitored by the federal government, even as the number of water safety violations has multiplied.
"It's an outrage," said Marc Edwards, an engineer at Virginia Tech who has been honored for his work on water quality. "If a landlord doesn't tell a tenant about lead paint in an apartment, he can go to jail. But we have no system to make people follow the rules to keep school children safe?"
Analysis and scientific experts including children's advocates complain that responsibility for drinking water is spread among too many local, state and federal agencies, and that risks are going unreported. Finding a solution, they say, would require a costly new national strategy for monitoring water in schools.
But the problems go even deeper than unsafe water and physical facilities deterioration. The dollars spent on educating kids has garnered poor results. High school graduates of public schools are below average in math, science and reading. Educating a new generation of social media network junkies on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Better education requires a new approach to learning like "flipped learning or flipped classroom" platforms that leverage mobile device apps for cost effective solutions.
In our schools, many of the same toxins could also be found in water at homes, offices and businesses. But the contaminants are especially dangerous to children, who drink more water per pound than adults and are more vulnerable to the effects of many hazardous substances. Read about 37 million kids at risk due to air pollution.
The AP analysis of a Federal database shows drinking water violations from 1998 to 2008 in schools with their own water supplies. The findings:
• Water in about 100 school districts and 2,250 schools breached federal safety standards.
• Those schools and districts racked up more than 5,550 separate violations. In 2008, the EPA recorded 577 violations, up from 59 in 1998 — an increase that officials attribute mainly to tougher rules.
• California, which has the most schools of any state, also recorded the most violations with 612, followed by Ohio (451), Maine (417), Connecticut (318) and Indiana (289).
• Nearly half the violators in California were repeat offenders. One elementary school in Tulare County, in the farm country of the Central Valley, broke safe-water laws 20 times.
• The most frequently cited contaminant was coliform bacteria, followed by lead and copper, arsenic and nitrates.
"There is just no excuse for this. Period," said California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. "We want to make sure that we fix this problem in a way that it will never happen again, and we can ensure parents that their children will be safe."
The problem goes beyond schools that use wells. Schools that draw water from public utilities showed contamination; too, especially older buildings where lead can concentrate at higher levels than in most homes.
Schools that get water from local utilities are not required to test for toxins because the EPA already regulates water providers. That means there is no way to ensure detection of contaminants caused by schools' own plumbing.
But voluntary tests in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Seattle and Los Angeles have found dangerous levels of lead in recent years. And experts warn the real risk to schoolchildren is going unreported.
Many school officials say buying bottled water is less expensive than fixing old pipes. Baltimore, Maryland for instance, has spent more than $2.5 million on bottled water over the last six years. In California, the Department of Public Health has given out more than $4 million in recent years to help districts overhaul their water systems.