Protecting Students from Lead in Drinking Water

Lead is a hidden threat—you can’t smell it or taste it—but its effects can be devastating.

Across the United States, roughly 13 million children attend schools with elevated levels of lead in drinking water. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control warns that no level of lead exposure is safe for children, and that ingestion of the heavy metal can lead to neurological issues including slowed growth, impaired learning and behavior problems.

Zurn Elkay is committed to helping school districts protect their students from lead exposure through our clean water solutions. Many of our Elkay bottle filling stations, drinking fountains, water coolers and filtration products are independently tested and certified to
NSF/ANSI Standard 53. Standard 53 certification means a filter effectively reduces lead from 150 parts per billion to less than 5 ppb, well below the EPA's action level of 15 ppb. Besides reducing lead levels, our touchless drinking water products help prevent the spread of germs and provide an easy, cost-efficient way to bring clean, safe water into school buildings.

For example, educators at the Equitas #3 Charter School in Los Angeles know all too well the challenges of providing clean drinking water to students. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, administrators decided that students shouldn’t use the school’s legacy water fountains. Instead, they relied on 5-gallon jugs to provide clean water to their students, with teachers and administrators often carrying empty jugs to a nearby store to refill. Zurn Elkay donated two bottle filling stations to the school, providing a filtered water solution with a touch-free experience— delivering cleaner water, reducing the spread of germs,and letting educators focus on the emotional and intellectual needs of their students.

Zurn Elkay is working with many other schools to provide clean water for students, with districts often using money from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) to upgrade water stations. For example,
Chesapeake Public Schools in Virginia recently installed 200 Elkay water bottle fillers for its students, while Albuquerque Public Schools added three bottle fillers per school for its 75,000 students. 

While protecting kids from lead exposure and providing a cleaner, more hygienic hydration solution, our water bottle fillers also protect the planet by reducing waste from single-use plastic water bottles. Kids in Albuquerque were so excited about their schools’ drinking water improvements that they held a reusable water bottle design contest.

These benefits inspire us to continue helping schools address the acute issue of elevated lead levels in drinking water, while also contributing to the overall sustainability of our schools.