John E. Tobiason
Metal contamination in drinking water, especially heavy metals such as lead, and corrosion issues, pose a threat to human health and have received increasing attention in recent years. This study reports on the results of ‘The Massachusetts Assistance Program for Lead in School Drinking Water’ and provides a better understanding of the dynamics of sampling protocols, premise plumbing and their influence on lead and copper concentrations. ‘The Massachusetts Assistance Program for Lead in School Drinking Water’ that was announced in April 2016, implemented tap-based water sampling for lead and copper at K-12 public schools and Early Education and Childcare centers in Massachusetts, thus targeting the most vulnerable populations to the health risks of lead and copper exposure. The Program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and implemented by both UMass Amherst and MassDEP, saw the collection and testing of about 68,000 water samples across 992 school buildings between June 2016 and December 2018. About 44% of school buildings had one or more samples exceeding the lead AL, 9% of school buildings had one or more samples exceeding the copper AL, and another 29% had exceedances of both the lead and copper ALs. Flushing was found to have a higher impact in decreasing lead concentrations as compared to the impact on copper concentrations. A decrease in lead concentration levels is seen in schools constructed later than the year 1990, possibly indicating the implementation of lead materials control following the regulations in the 1980s and the LCR.