Free lead test kits are available to Nebraska schools and childcare facilities.

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska) – Nebraska schools and licensed child care facilities can now test their drinking water for lead for free through the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy program.

The test kit will be able to detect any lead that may be present in light fixtures, faucets and fountains.

The prepaid sample kits will be mailed to the appropriate institutions, allowing the kits to be returned to the lab for free lead testing. Anyone can take a sample of drinking water at the facility, and it only takes 15 minutes. NDEE has created a video on how to properly take a lead sample. Eligible institutions include all public, parochial, and private schools from preschool to high school age, as well as public and home childcare.

All schools and childcare facilities are eligible to participate in the free lead sampling program, but it will primarily focus on the populations most at risk of lead exposure. The program will look for institutions that serve children aged 6 and under, are public preschools, elementary schools, and childcare facilities in underserved and low-income communities that were built before 1988.

The NDEE said identifying sources of exposure is critical because childhood lead poisoning is preventable. Lead exposure in childhood can be associated with hearing and speech impairments, learning difficulties, behavioral disorders, growth and developmental delays, and adverse effects on the developing nervous system.

The NDEE said institutions that detect high levels of lead in their faucets may place a “do not use” sign over a sink or fountain to prevent students from using it, or remove or replace the faucet entirely.

Any institution interested in drinking water sampling should contact their local health department to request testing kits.

Free lead testing was first announced in August 2020 and the remaining funds from the NDEE Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation (WIIN) Act grants will be used to fund the program.

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