Health officials warn that water in schools may be contaminated with unsafe levels of bacteria and metals from sitting stagnant in the pipes since March.
A group of students from Purdue University, led by associate professor of civil, environmental and ecological engineering Andrew Whelton, is testing school water and fixing any identified issues.
“There’s an acute risk," Whelton said as he discussed the danger of drinking contaminated water. "An acute risk is when you have adverse health effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal distress.”
Many schools are planning to shut down drinking fountains due to COVID-19 concerns. Whelton said contaminated water can still be an issue with mist from toilets, showers, decorative fountains, sprinklers and even water being used to make food in cafeterias.
He said safe water should be at the front of every school and parent’s mind as students return to the classroom.
“So there’s three things that I think every parent needs to be concerned about and at least ask questions about," Whelton said. "It’s the virus, the ventilation and water."
The Purdue team has tested multiple schools in Indiana, and 10 buildings in all. It is ready to test more schools that reach out for assistance.