Georgia public schools invited to apply for tests of lead in water

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ATLANTA (AP) — A group that will test for lead in drinking water at Georgia public schools is inviting schools to apply for the testing program.

RTI International, a North Carolina nonprofit, began accepting applications Tuesday.

The program is free to schools, with costs paid by a $980,000 federal grant.

Up to 800 schools can apply. If more than that express interest, priority will be given to elementary schools, schools with a higher percentage of students receiving free or reduced-cost lunch, and schools in underserved communities. Other schools, as well a child care centers, are likely to be invited to apply later this year.

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RTI says it will provide low-cost recommendations on how to remove lead from drinking and cooking water. A school or district would be responsible for fixing any problems.

Childhood lead exposure can cause mental and physical problems that can’t be reversed.

School employees themselves collect water samples and send them to RTI for testing. Testing had originally been planned to start sooner, but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The grant runs through 2023.

RTI ran an earlier testing program in North Carolina, finding high lead levels in at least one faucet in 9% of 3,200 schools or child care centers tested.

More information can be found at https://www.cleanwaterforuskids.org/Georgia.

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