Lead Contamination in Indiana’s Drinking Water
Under House Enrolled Act 1265, legislature in Indiana is forcing officials to test public and private schools’ drinking water for lead levels. Testing begins July 1, 2020, and must be completed by January 1, 2023 in all public and private schools, except for those previously tested and within legal lead limits. The testing will then be completed every 2 years if the original testing was within limits. Lead levels at 15 parts per billion (ppb) or more will require a change in plumbing and public education on lead poisoning. However, with lead levels at 15 ppb or more, child development has already been damaged. According to the CDC, lead poisoning in children can be severe, leading to mental deficits and at high levels, seizures, coma, and death. While school water is being tested and adjusted, children are still at risk for lead poisoning from their water source at home, specifically children of low income families. Residents in low income areas are less likely to have lead and copper pipes replaced, as they often have to bear the cost of replacing their pipes on private properties. While some major cities such as Madison, Wisconsin, and Lansing, Michigan, have fully replaced their pipes, Indiana has yet to lead a removal act of its aging water pipe system, instead enforcing testing of lead levels in school water. It cost Lansing approximately $44.5 million over 12 years to replace their lead lines and Madison $15.5 million over a time period of 12 years to complete its Lead Service Replacement Program. Though this process is clearly long and tedious, it ultimately protects the people of Madison and Lansing from contaminated water. Indiana is taking a step in the right direction by testing schools water, but perhaps it would be more efficient to replace the pipes, rather than continue this testing every two years. It would certainly be more beneficial for the population of Indiana to replace the water infrastructure statewide.