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Lead Contaminated Schools

California School Lead Contamination Lawsuits

California Schools Have a Major Lead Contaminated Water Problem

Since 1988, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of California have been warning school districts throughout the state that they needed to test water sources within their schools for lead contamination. The reasoning is that many schools constructed before 1987 used lead pipes and fittings that can leach lead into water that is used in drinking fountains and cafeterias. Despite these warnings, most school districts in California did nothing.

Parents and law firms are doing something, though. If your child was exposed to unsafe levels of lead contamination at school, then Kershaw Talley Barlow and our lead contamination attorneys want to help you seek justice and compensation for all the harm that it has caused. Call (916) 520-6639 now to see if you have an eligible lawsuit to file against a California school or school district.

Testing Reveals Unsafe Levels of Lead

It was not until 2018 that the state passed a law requiring water districts to begin testing water within school districts throughout the state. Although the law requires minimal testing that is not in accordance with EPA recommendations, the results of recent testing are shocking. According to state records published in 2019, more than 180 schools throughout the state had sources of water that were contaminated with lead levels that exceeded the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion (“PPB”). 

However, it should be noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have warned that this “action level” is far too high and that no amount of lead in drinking water is safe for children to consume. In other words, the amount of lead a child can safely consume is 0 ppb.

When this is taken into consideration, the problem gets substantially worse. According to data published by the state, in addition to the 180 schools with levels above 15 ppb, there are several hundred additional schools that had at least one source that distributed lead-contaminated water with lead levels between 5 ppb and 15 ppb.

Unfortunately, the state’s testing requirements did not require the testing to detect levels less than 5 ppb. Therefore, even though levels of lead between 1 and 5 ppb are unsafe, it is impossible to know exactly how many schools are distributing lead-contaminated water within this range. Furthermore, California does not require schools to take any action or even inform parents if a water source has lead levels that are lower than 15 ppb. Therefore, there are likely many schools throughout the state that are distributing lead-contaminated water to students currently and daily.

Lead Contaminated Water Can Impact a Child’s Ability to Learn

Lead is a neurotoxin. At very high levels, it can cause significant symptoms, such as protracted vomiting, encephalopathy, and death. In children, even low-level lead exposure is dangerous.

Studies have linked lead exposure to:

  • Diminished intellectual and academic abilities
  • Lower IQs
  • Behavioral problems
  • Higher rates of disorders such as hyperactivity and attention deficits

No effective treatments exist for the permanent effects of lead toxicity. Children who are harmed by it will likely suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives.

Can I Test My Child to See If They Have Been Exposed to Lead?

Although the standard method of testing for lead exposure is through a blood test, these tests only reveal whether there has been exposure within the past 7 to 10 days. Therefore, if the testing is done over the summer break, for example, it may not reveal whether the child is being exposed at school. Also, if a school has changed its plumbing or a child has changed schools, the tests may come back negative even though the child had been consuming lead-contaminated water for many years.

Lead consumed by a child usually results in long-term poisoning detectable in the bones. Recent advances in technology allow children to be tested using a specialized scan of their bones, which can reveal a child’s cumulative exposure to lead over a long period of time.

California Schools Impacted by Lead Contaminated Water

A complete list of schools in the state and the lead testing results for those schools can be found in a report from the California Natural Resources Agency, which you can view in full by clicking here.

In the Sacramento region schools with the highest levels of lead in drinking water include:

[school contamination infographic]

Do I Have a School Lead Poisoning Case?

If you have a child who attended any of the above-listed schools and has been diagnosed with any type of learning or behavioral disorder, you may have a California school lead poisoning case. At Kershaw Talley Barlow, we network with experts who can complete diagnostic scans for children to determine their cumulative exposure to lead throughout their life. If you believe your child’s behavioral disorder or learning disability may be related to lead exposure, please schedule a free case evaluation with our California school lead exposure attorneys now.

To speak with us directly, dial (916) 520-6639 at any time.

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