Lead is a highly toxic metal.There is no safe level of lead in the body. Exposure to lead can slow children’s growth, impair their development and learning, and cause behavior problems. Additionally, young children absorb lead into their systems more easily than adults do. 

Lead can get into drinking water from plumbing and fixtures, so it's important to make sure lead levels in drinking water are as low as possible. Fixing a lead in drinking water problem is often easy and low cost. Solutions can include replacing plumbing fixtures, removing redundant or seldom-used fixtures, and encouraging the use of centrally located, well-maintained bottle fill stations.

First Round of Testing

Act 66, passed in 2019, requires all Vermont school districts, supervisory unions, independent schools and child care providers to test their drinking and cooking water for lead. If lead is found at or above the action level of 4 parts per billion (ppb), the school or child care provider must immediately take the tap out of service and take corrective action to eliminate or reduce the amount of lead to below the action level.

A bell with the word "update" under it.

The first round of testing was completed from June 2019 through December 2021. During this round, 98% of Vermont schools and child care providers tested over 15,000 taps used for drinking and cooking and took steps to ensure lead levels were below 4 ppb. Here are some key findings:

  • One out of every five drinking water taps tested had elevated levels of lead. 

  • Sinks were the most common tap tested and had among the highest lead levels.

  • Bottle fillers had the lowest lead levels. 

  • Lead was more frequently found in the water fixture rather than the plumbing.

  • Costs were less than $500 for 90% of the fixtures that needed to be replaced.

Learn more about key findings from the first round of testing
For more details, read the full report

There will be more rounds of testing. Taps at schools and child care facilities will need to be tested every three years according to the schedule in the rule

Pilot Project

The Health Department, Agency of Natural Resources and the Agency of Education led a joint project from November 2017 to March 2018 to gather information about lead levels in drinking water of Vermont schools. This project provided a small number of schools with the opportunity to receive one-on-one assistance and save money during the testing process.

The Health Department offered testing supplies, analysis and follow-up testing free of charge to participating schools. If lead was found in drinking water, State agencies and drinking water experts worked with schools to find the best possible solution to lower lead levels. Many solutions were easy and low cost.