WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the CDC, 500,000 children age 5 or younger have blood lead levels that exceed the EPA's acceptable guidelines. Contaminated tap water from schools is one of the main sources of the problem. Lead poisoning is different from other health concerns because medicine can't reverse the damage; a child's brain damage from lead is permanent. That's why prevention is the only solution.
To address the problem nationally, a grassroots public health initiative called TOXIN ALERT© was launched to protect children from lead and other contaminants in their drinking water.
Created by Harvard public health scientist Eric Feigl-Ding, PhD, and Flint-educated engineer Pius Lee, with the support of a dedicated volunteer team of concerned software-engineer parents, the TOXINALERT.ORG warning system was built to provide the following tools to the public:
1) Searchable TOXIN ALERT Digital Map and a National Drinking Water Database, with 500,000 data points updated regularly from EPA and USGS to view water conditions in communities nationwide;
2) 'Safe Water for Schools' social network program comprising 130,000 schools and childcare centers nationwide, offering petitions and crowd-funding tools to support annual water testing for each individual school;
3) Kits for user-submitted testing (6 basic heavy metal test, or 114 comprehensive chemical test) of public drinking water (offered at-cost, without profit);
4) E-Alerts subscriptions on newly discovered nearby toxicity areas identified by public and government reporting/testing;
5) Advocacy tools to share the latest results with your community.
According to Dr. Feigl-Ding, lead pipes were not banned until 1986, but the average age of school buildings nationwide predates that by at least a decade. "This means that lead pipes exist in thousands of schools, and to make matters worse 9 in 10 schools nationwide are not getting tested at all for drinking water quality," he says.
TOXIN ALERT is launching its 'Safe Water for Schools' (SWFS) social network program that empowers anyone to petition and crowd-fund the testing of drinking water quality of their chosen local school – for each of the over 130,000 schools and childcare centers nationwide. The SWFS program will provide information and tools to empower parents to take steps to have any school's water comprehensively tested biannually.
"As the first digital social network for drinking water, the mission of TOXIN ALERT is to protect families and communities from toxic drinking water catastrophes," explains Feigl-Ding. "Our goal is to save at least 1 million IQ points of children by preventing the drinking of lead-contaminated water. And we want to do that by bringing digital health information on water toxicity to the public, and improve the transparency of government and private data."
Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, former Executive Director of the Detroit Health Department (2015-2017) adds, "Rapid, real-time alert systems to keep kids healthy in communities and schools are critical and much needed. TOXIN ALERT uses public engagement to serve public health in Michigan and nationwide."
TOXIN ALERT is a non-profit initiative and so far has been supported entirely by volunteers. "However, with the anticipated significant cuts to the EPA, grassroots and private support for a public alert system to fill in gaps in monitoring clean water will likely become more important than ever to ensure the health of our children," says Dr. Feigl-Ding.
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SOURCE TOXIN ALERT