CalPIRG Campaign to Get the Lead Out of School Tap Water OUSD

We met Jason Pfeifle, of California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG), in the Fall of 2017 after SmartOakland was featured in a CalMatters news article covering the story of lead poisoning and blood lead testing requirements throughout the state of California.

Jason asked SmartOakland for our support in helping surface the need for tighter regulation on lead in school drinking water.  They contacted us before we, and the media, realized Oakland had a lead in the drinking water issue.  We had, at that point, been focusing on the issue of lead poisoning coming from lead in paint that deteriorates and breaks down to travel into children, soil, dust and air.

Here is the letter content we signed onto back in September 2017 and you can see the pdf here.

Dear OUSD School Board Members,

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we are writing out of our deep concern about lead i n sch ool drinking water and its impact on children's health. Since the Flint water crisis, more schoolshave begun testing their water for lead, and far too many are finding lead levels that threatenchildren's health. We urge you to adopt a policy that truly protects children from this toxic threat.

Just this year, tests have revealed lead-tainted drinking water at elementary and middle schools  in counties throughout California, including Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego.With the recent lead incident at McClymonds High School, we are deeply concerned that there couldbe serious problems at schools in Oakland. It is known that high levels of lead are founddisproportionately in black, brown and poor communities, and that children suffer from the worsteffects of lead exposure.

Even very minimal exposures to lead can cause permanent damage to children's cognitive
development. Recent research shows that, at blood l evels lower than 5 micrograms per deciliter, lead can still cause diminished intellectual and academic abilities, higher rates of neurobehavioral disorders such as ADHD, and poor growth in children.[1] Pediatricians across the country stress thatthere is no safe level of lead for our children.[2]

Data increasingly shows that wherever there is lead in pipes and plumbing, there is risk for water contamination.

Schools should do everything in their power to foster the academic success of all children, not
jeopardize their development because of lead exposures.

We urge you to remove lead-bearing pipes and plumbing, install and maintain filters
certified to remove lead, and allow no more than 1 part per billion of lead in schools’
drinking water, consistent with recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Sincerely,

1. Jason Pfeifle, Public Health Advocate, CALPIRG
2. Pamela Drake, Local Politics Coordinator, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club
3. Sharon Rose, Co-Chair, Block by Block Organizing Network
4. Margaret Gordon, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP)
5. Jennifer Shanoski, President, Peralta Federation of Teachers
6. Alicia Contreras, Executive Director, Spanish Speaking Citizens' Foundation
7. Dr. Vicki Alexander, Public Health Physician, Healthy Black Families, Inc.
8. Chris Iglesias, Chief Executive Officer, The Unity Council
9. Stephanie Hayden, Co-Founder, Smart Oakland

[1] http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2016/06/16/peds.2016-1493.full.pdf.
[2] https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/With-No-Amount-of-Lead-Exposure-Safe-for-Children,-American Academy-of-Pediatrics-Calls-For-Stricter-Regulations.aspx