About a tenth of the nation’s schools operate their own water systems, which means they’re already subject to regular testing. In the past three years, 278 school systems showed lead levels above the minimum set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (Health officials stress that there is no safe level of lead in water.)
Most schools, though, are connected to municipal or other water utilities. The water in those systems is tested, too, but that may not capture high lead levels in the school buildings themselves. That’s because the problem with lead in drinking water isn’t the quality of the water as it leaves a treatment plant, it’s what happens once it leaves the water main under the street and flows toward a building and through its plumbing. And in schools, that plumbing could be several decades old.
It’s called the service line
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