RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina is doing a better job of removing lead from water in schools, but still has plenty of room for improvement, a study finds.
The state received a grade of C-minus on a report card released Thursday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Environment America.
In the previous scorecard, issued in 2019, North Carolina earned an F.
Because the report focuses on public K-12 schools, it does not include the ongoing investigation at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where lead was found in the water in several buildings on campus.
The report dings the state, calling its test and fix policies “relatively weak” for both public schools and child care centers, where it says the lead limit is 10 parts per billion.
The groups want that standard changed to 1 part per billion, which is what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends.
The report also says the state only requires schools to disclose test results that exceed the lead limit and makes posting results online optional, giving the public “an incomplete picture of contamination.”
The highest grade went to Washington, D.C., which received a B-plus. New Jersey and New Hampshire each received a grade of B-minus. Roughly half of states earned failing grades.
In addition to changing the limit for lead in drinking water, the groups also want lead-removing filters on taps and water stations, policies to ensure schools no longer use plumbing that leaches lead into the water and the replacement of lead service lines that are more common at daycare centers.