Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it important to test my child care center for lead?
Testing the drinking water at your facility will let you know if lead is present. This is the first step in limiting lead exposure to children in your community, and Nevada appreciates your interest in learning more about how you can be a part of this project
Lead is a soft, heavy metal that has historically been used in plumbing because it is easy to shape and doesn’t easily leak. Once regarded as a useful material, lead is now considered a toxic metal that can be harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Health effects to infants and children include lowered infant birth weight and slowed physical and mental development, lowered IQ levels, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, and poor classroom performance.
Lead enters our drinking water through plumbing materials and fixtures in the water distribution network. This means that lead typically enters our drinking water after it leaves the water treatment plant.
Does it cost money to participate in the program?
No. This project is a Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) program, made possible by US EPA’s WIIN Grant. Child care centers can enroll for free.
Throughout the program, you will have access to education, training, and water testing materials that will…
- Help you understand more about lead and its health effects on children
- Give you tools to maintain open communication with parents at your facility
- Show you how to use US EPA’s “3Ts” standard (Training, Testing and Telling) to test your facility’s drinking water
- Allow you to collect and send drinking water samples to a certified lab with pre-paid shipping labels that are conveniently mailed to you
- Reduce possible lead contamination in drinking water to improve the health of our children
Do I need to complete training before testing?
Yes, but we will walk you through it. To enroll in the program, someone at your child care center, referred to as the “Facility Coordinator”, will have to complete the “How to Test Drinking Water for Lead” web training.
We will provide training videos for each step of the process to make sure you are fully equipped to collect your water samples. Your drinking water testing kit will be mailed to your facility with all the necessary materials to successfully and accurately test your facility’s water for lead. The entire program is designed to be simple, straightforward, and quick.
Will water still be available at my facility during testing?
Yes. Collecting water samples does not require shutting off your water. However, before a water sample can be collected, the water source (i.e., a sink faucet or a drinking fountain) should not be used for 8-18 hours. For most facilities, this will happen overnight while the child care center is closed. Your testing kit will include bags and signs that say “Do Not Use – Water Testing in Progress” for you to put up.
Toilets, showers, and other water sources that are not being tested can still be used during testing. After sitting unused for 8 to 18 hours, the Facility Coordinator will fill the provided sample bottles with the first water to come out of the tap.
You will then be able to use your water as normal.
Will I be able to see the results?
Yes. All results will be publicly available online. Facilities enrolled in the project will also have access to a facility-specific dashboard, which will have all information collected during the project. As facilities complete the training and collect their water samples, lead results will be uploaded to https://ndep.nv.gov/lead as they are processed by the lab.
What are the health effects associated with lead exposure?
Young children and infants are particularly vulnerable to lead because the physical and behavioral effects of exposure occur at lower levels in children than in adults. A dose of lead that would have little effect on an adult can have a significant effect on a child during their early years of physical and brain development. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells.
EPA estimates that drinking water can make up 20% or more of a person’s total lead exposure. Infants who drink formula may get 40% to 60% of their lead exposure from drinking water. There are more ways a child can be exposed to lead, and it’s important to recognize all of them. Most lead exposure typically happens in the home, from either paint, dust, soil, air, or food, as well as from drinking water.
What happens if lead is found at my child care center?
If lead is found in a drinking water source at your facility, you will be contacted by a member of the project team and asked to block off access to that source. It is important that people do not drink water from that tap, and food and beverages are not made using water from that location until the problem is fixed. This may mean using another drinking water source (such as a tap that did not test high) or temporarily using bottled water for drinking and cooking. As funding allows, you will also be provided with a pitcher-style filter which, when used correctly, can remove lead from your drinking water.
As part of the program, you will be asked to collect additional samples from the source(s) where lead exceeded allowable levels.
The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection has additional funding, until gone, from a US EPA grant to fund replacement faucets, fixtures and drinking fountains.
Do I have to participate?
No, but you are very much encouraged to participate. This is a voluntary project for the State of Nevada using federal grant funds. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) has already done a similar project for most elementary schools and some middle and high schools throughout the State. Thankfully, nearly all the samples collected were below action levels, so it provided school districts, teachers, and parents with peace of mind knowing that the water they serve is safe for children who are at their facilities for much of their daily lives.