Dangers of Drinking Water from a Water Fountain
March 27, 2010
As the U.S. taste for bottled water grows, environmentalists have been trying to sell people on tap water.
Bottled water is a drain on the environment -- the U.S. public goes through about 50 billion water bottles a year, and most of those plastic containers are not recycled.
But switching to tap water could be a bad idea in some schools where the risk of lead contamination from old pipes -- known to affect physical and mental development -- is high, particularly in large urban areas such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.
A nationwide investigation showed that the drinking water in schools in 27 states is contaminated with lead and other toxic substances from lead-soldered pipes installed before 1985.
In 2007, Baltimore City public schools switched their entire system to bottled water after a study of 84 randomly selected water fountains found 10 with lead levels high than the EPA's cutoff of 20 parts per billion.
The school district decided it would be cheaper to provide bottled water than testing and remediation efforts.