The health department will test drinking water in 16 schools for lead, and the results could lead to a statewide testing program.
About 150 schools that have their own private wells are required to test for lead.
But deputy health commissioner Tracy Dolan says there is no requirement for schools that get their water from municipal supplies.
And Dolan says it's possible that some of Vermont's older schools have lead pipes.
"We expect that we will probably find some level of lead in at least one tap among all of the schools," says Dolan. "And so with that recognition we thought we should move forward and see what we can learn and then determine whether or not we need any policy changes."
Vermont has a pretty robust lead paint, and blood testing, program, but Dolan says the water crisis in Flint, Michigan shined a light on the dangers of running clean water through lead pipes.
Dolan says the program, at this point, is voluntary, and each of the 16 schools that were asked to take part agreed.
- Barre City Elementary School
- Enosburg Falls Elementary School
- Northwest Primary School
- Bennington Elementary School
- St. Albans City Elementary School
- Elm Hill School
- St. Johnsbury School
- Thatcher Brook Primary School
- Castleton Elementary School
- Academy School
- Central Elementary School
- White River Elementary School
- Cabot School
- Johnson Elementary School
- Ludlow Elementary School
- Richford Elementary School
Dolan says all of the testing will be done at no cost to the schools.
Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore says the state will work with the schools if any of the tests show dangerous levels of lead in the water.
“We are committed to making sure all Vermonters have access to clean and safe drinking water," she said.
Lead poison is particularly dangerous for children. Exposure to lead can damage the brain, kidneys and nervous system, slow down growth and development, make it hard to learn, and impair a child’s hearing and speech.
The data that is gathered during the tests will be used to form a statewide policy for testing water in Vermont's schools.