Examining Public Water Systems Servicing Schools and Childcare Facilities to Inform Policy: A Study of Lead Exposure in the Mississippi Delta

Abstract

Abstract This study was initiated with the intent of identifying elementary schools and childcare facilities in the Mississippi Delta with children ages 6 and under that may have public water systems (PWSs) with lead exceedances of 5 ppb. We also aimed to identify the existence, and further the availability, of information regarding which public schools and childcare facilities were serviced by which public water systems. Based on the results of this study, considerations related to Mississippi’s ability to comply with the 2020 Revisions of the Lead and Copper Rule requiring testing in all public schools were determined. Seven principal counties were investigated for possible exceedances. The Mississippi Department of Health’s Drinking Water Watch (DWW) and Public Water System Material Inventory (PWSMI) databases were utilized to determine details regarding each PWS and the concentrations of lead detected over a six-year period from January 1st, 2014 to January 1st, 2020. Elementary schools and childcare facilities for the seven counties were then overlaid with their accompanying PWS. Of the 87 identified PWS, 18 reported lead water concentrations matching or exceeding 5.0 ppb. Thirteen of these PWSs likely serve children ages 6 and younger through elementary schools and child care facilities. This study showed that while information regarding the presence of lead within PWSs is accessible to the public, the capability to easily match schools with their water provider was more challenging because service areas are not easily accessible. This information will be vital in the state’s ability to prioritize and comply with lead in drinking water testing in childcare centers and public schools as required by the new Lead and Copper Rule Revisions

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