Healthy Homes Partners with Environmental Defense Fund to Test Water in Child Care Facilities


The Healthy Homes Coalition is continuing its partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in 2017 to test a new, emerging model for ensuing children have safe water when away from home by  testing water in two Grand Rapids child care centers. The partnership with EDF builds upon a 2016 partnership where the organizations tested water for residents impacted by partial lead service line replacements.

Children under the age of six are the most vulnerable to the detrimental impacts of lead exposure. Many of these children spend much of their time in child care centers.

While there are federal and state standard to protect these children in child care centers, there are few standards or even testing information on lead in drinking water in these facilities. In contrast, schools across the country are testing their drinking water for lead in response to concerns raised by parents. In some states, the legislature has passed laws requiring such testing, and state agencies are also demanding testing.

The Healthy Homes Coalition partnership with EDF will adopt a protocol for testing drinking water for lead in child care centers. The protocol will enable immediate screening and repair of significant sources of lead, followed by more rigorous testing to confirm lead levels meet targets. The pilot will refine the protocol based on results obtained, and will evaluate the estimated costs and benefits for widespread adoption by child care centers.

EDF and the Healthy Homes Coalition want to evaluate how child care centers, whether voluntarily or as a requirement, should identify and reduce potential lead exposure to children in their care. This pilot project will help those child care centers and inform the development of new regulations.

The project will build upon the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Training, Testing, and Telling (3Ts) toolkit that it developed to help schools reduce exposure to lead in water. Child care centers participating in the pilot must serve at least 30 children from low-income families. As an incentive to participate, the pilot will pay, within limits, for the actions taken to reduce children’s exposure to lead. These actions include the replacement of lead service lines and faucets with high levels of lead and the use of filtration where expensive alterations prohibit removal.

Testing will happen at the Baxter Community Center in July and the Healthy Homes Coalition is currently working to identify a second location for testing in August.