Lead levels in tap water at licensed North Carolina child care facilities, 2020–2021
Hoponick Redmon, J., Kondash, A., Norman, E., Johnson, J. D., Levine, K. E., McWilliams, A. C., Napier, M., Weber, F. X., Stella, L., Wood, E., Lee Pow Jackson, C., & Mulhern, R. (2022). Lead levels in tap water at licensed North Carolina child care facilities, 2020–2021. American Journal of Public Health, 112(S7), S695-S705. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2022.307003
Objectives. To evaluate lead levels in tap water at licensed North Carolina child care facilities.
Methods. Between July 2020 and October 2021, we enrolled 4005 facilities in a grant-funded, participatory science testing program. We identified risk factors associated with elevated first-draw lead levels using multiple logistic regression analysis.
Results. By sample (n = 22 943), 3% of tap water sources exceeded the 10 parts per billion (ppb) North Carolina hazard level, whereas 25% of tap water sources exceeded 1 ppb, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ reference level. By facility, at least 1 tap water source exceeded 1 ppb and 10 ppb at 56% and 12% of facilities, respectively. Well water reliance was the largest risk factor, followed by participation in Head Start programs and building age. We observed large variability between tap water sources within the same facility.
Conclusions. Tap water in child care facilities is a potential lead exposure source for children. Given variability among tap water sources, it is imperative to test every source used for drinking and cooking so appropriate action can be taken to protect children’s health. (Am J Public Health. 2022;112(S7):S695–S705. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2022.307003)