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Environmental Health Division
Lead in Drinking Water in Head Start Program Settings
Lead is a toxic metal commonly found in air, soil, dust, food, drinking water, and in products such as lead based paint. There is no safe level for lead in the body. Reducing levels of lead in drinking water is an important part of reducing the overall exposure to lead.
As a provider of Head Start services for Minnesota’s children, you value their healthy development. Awareness of environmental concerns and actions that you can take to reduce adverse eﬀects can help make a quality experience. This information sheet provides general information about reducing lead in drinking water.
Head Start programs must meet federal criteria regarding lead testing and mitigation. Currently public and charter schools in Minnesota are required to test for lead, while testing is voluntary at the state level for child care providers. Testing for lead in drinking water can help you demonstrate that you have met federal monitoring protocols for Head Start Programs.
Focus Area Two Monitoring Protocol (PDF) asks Head Start programs to demonstrate how facilities are free from environmental toxins and hazards that pose risk to children’s health and development, and how programs keep all facilities safe through an ongoing system of preventative maintenance. This also includes describing your process for lead inspections.
MDH recommends that Head Start services test for lead in drinking water as part of their preventative maintenance and lead inspections.
- Use either the EPA 3Ts guidance or use the Minnesota Model Plan, Reducing Lead in School Drinking Water (PDF);
- Identify and test all taps used for drinking and food preparation;
- Minimize exposure to lead and maintain your drinking water quality;
- Take action to reduce lead exposure whenever a test reveals the presence of lead; and
- Communicate about lead testing results with staff, and community. This toolkit provides resources for Head Start providers to communicate about lead in drinking water test results with the families they serve.
Every Head Start facility is unique. Some programs may need to conduct their own testing while other programs that use space in a public or charter school may need to request a copy of lead testing results for their records from the school.
Head Start Programs are eligible for free lead in drinking water testing from the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WINN) Grant. More information can be found at Minnesota Lead Testing in Schools and Child Cares in Drinking Water.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Ensuring Drinking Water Quality in Child Care Facilities During and After Extended Closures (PDF)
- 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water
Department of Health (MDH)
Department of Education (MDE)
Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Ceter (ECLKC)