NASHVILLE – The State of Tennessee is offering lead testing in water to Head Start, Early Head Start, state-licensed child-care centers and public schools at no cost to facilities that choose to voluntarily participate in the program.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) and Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) are collaborating on the initiative. The program is made possible through a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN).
“We encourage early childhood centers to accept this offer to test their water,” Commissioner David Salyers of TDEC said. “Young children are especially susceptible to lead exposure, and the state is committed to protecting them. We are pleased to work with the other state departments in this important effort.”
“There is no safe level of lead exposure for children, especially those under six years of age,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “We’re eager to collaborate with our state and federal partners on this effort to help reduce risks to the health of Tennessee children.”
“We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to help Tennessee’s child-care providers thrive,” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes. “This partnership with other state departments will offer licensed providers that want to participate a free option to test their water and further support child care that’s safe, healthy and educationally rich.”
“We are grateful to be part of this initiative to support our early childhood programs as they do the incredibly important work of caring for our youngest learners,” said TDOE Commissioner Dr. Penny Schwinn. “This opportunity will help ensure a safe and healthy environment for all students.”
Participating facilities will be provided lead testing kits with bottles, instructions and pre-paid shipping labels. Results will be shared with the facilities as soon as possible but no later than two weeks following the completion of the testing. The state will work to assist facilities in responding to the results and addressing elevated levels of lead when necessary.
Water can be a source of lead exposure, especially in buildings with older plumbing. Testing the water in facilities for children is important because children spend a significant portion of their days in these facilities and are likely to consume water while there.
To request a lead testing kit, those who are interested should contact the Tennessee Department of Health Laboratory Services staff at (615) 262-6300 or by email at Lead_Testing.Support@tn.gov.
Head Start, Early Head Start, state-licensed child-care centers and schools are being mailed packets of information to explain more about the program. Information may also be found at: https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/environmental/safe-places/safe-operation/drinking-water.html and https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/3ts-reducing-lead-drinking-water-toolkit.