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NC Child Care Centers Must Test For Lead


Child care centers in North Carolina are now required to test for lead in their tap water.  The Commission for Public Health, the public health rulemaking body for North Carolina, has adopted a rule requiring the testing after a study of 86 centers in Central North Carolina found one in six had at least one tap with elevated lead levels.

The research was conducted by Jenny Hoponick Redmon  and Keith Levine with the nonprofit research institute RTI International.  The study covered daycare centers in four NC counties; Durham, Orange, Wake and Guilford.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, even low levels of lead exposure in children have been linked to developmental problems.  An estimated 230,000 children attend nearly 4,500 licensed child care centers across North Carolina

The new rule requires all daycare centers to be tested at least once every three years and eliminate any sources of lead.   According to the Commission for Public Health, a federal grant should help cover most of the initial testing and mitigation costs.

There is also a separate bill currently in the state legislature (HB 386) that would require lead testing for schools and some child care facilities to test for lead in drinking water.  The bill is currently stalled in committee.   

In March, a report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund gave North Carolina a failing grade for addressing lead in school drinking water.   Representative Brian Turner (D-Buncombe) along with members of Clean Water for Carolina Kids, lead exposure experts, and local and state lawmakers joined Environment North Carolina in calling for swift action to reduce lead in drinking water in North Carolina’s schools and daycares.


Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.