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How Schools Can Help Cut Lead Contamination in Children

New York City reduced exposure to the dangerous toxin by finding and fixing problem drinking faucets. A new study finds Black students had the most to gain.

New York City schools focused on fixing or replacing water fountains with dangerous lead levels.

New York City schools focused on fixing or replacing water fountains with dangerous lead levels.

Photographer: Andersen Ross Photography Inc/Digital Vision via Getty Images

States and cities with unsafe drinking water can look to New York City to find one solution for cutting lead exposure in children — testing and replacing problem fountains in schools.

As part of a program that began in 2016 to assess and reduce lead in drinking water in public schools, workers tested every drinking water fixture, fountain, and bottle filling station for lead. Problem fixtures with elevated levels of lead were immediately removed, fixtures more than five years old were replaced and some pipes were flushed after the weekend and holiday breaks.