Lead is harmful to human health and has a bigger impact on children than adults.
While lead is a naturally occurring element, it can be toxic. Lead can be found in the air, water, soil, and in a wide variety of products, including pipes and plumbing fixtures, water faucets, paint, ceramics, batteries, gasoline, make-up and cosmetics, and ammunition.
Lead in the water used for drinking and cooking accounts for about 20 percent of what most people are exposed to. Babies who rely on formula can get 40 to 60 percent of their lead exposure from drinking water. This makes it a good focus point for reducing lead exposure, especially for children.
The good news is that everyone can take simple steps to reduce lead exposure in drinking water.
The Sip Safe program, conducted by the Mississippi State University Extension Service and funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is working to reduce lead exposure in children ages birth to 5 years by screening water in qualifying schools and child care facilities.
The program will:
- Communicate educational information about lead in drinking water, lead testing, and how to understand test results.
- Train officials at participating school and child care facilities to share information about lead in drinking water and ways to reduce student exposure to lead in drinking water.
- Test drinking water in participating schools and child care facilities to identify potential sources of lead.
- Take action through the development of curriculum materials, educational and outreach materials, a social media toolkit, and planning materials for addressing test results for participating schools and child care facilities.
The EPA website provides basic information about lead in drinking water and its impact on human health.
If you are a public school or public or privately owned child care facility interested in participating in the Sip Safe program, which includes free water screening and educational support materials, contact Nelson McGough at 662-325-3295.
Cooperating partners for this statewide project include:
- MSU Extension
- Mississippi Department of Health
- Mississippi Bureau of Public Water Supply
- Lead Poisoning Prevention and Healthy Homes Program
- Child Care Licensure
- Mississippi Department of Education
- Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory
- University of Mississippi Sea Grant Law Center
Two simple, daily steps can protect Mississippi’s youngest citizens from lead poisoning. Jason Barrett, an assistant Extension professor in the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute, said lead in drinking water can harm children’s health. But flushing faucets each morning and using cold water for cooking and preparing baby bottles can greatly reduce exposure.