Indiana received a federal grant to help update water infrastructure and keep children safe from lead. Among other things, children exposed to lead can have trouble learning, behavioral issues, and poor kidney function.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it will put more than $55 million toward the state’s revolving loan fund. The fund provides loans to communities for things like replacing water and sewer lines — including lead drinking water pipes.
Jim McGoff is with the Indiana Finance Authority which runs the state’s lead testing program. He said despite the pandemic, about 170 additional schools and 15 childcare facilities are enrolled in the program this year.
“Indiana has been a leader when it's come to statewide lead testing in our public schools," McGoff said.
EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede said the agency is also giving the state funding to remediate lead in schools and child care facilities.
“And if sampling results reveal lead levels above the Indiana action level of 15 parts per billion, eligible schools and child care facilities will be provided with remediation costs for the repair and replacement of lead fixtures," he said.
But it’s likely many schools and day cares that need their lead fixtures replaced could be left out. There is no safe level of lead and experts with Purdue University said the action level for lead in drinking water is much too high.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.