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February 19, 2020 Wednesday 11:31:51 AM IST

Parents should ensure child's water supply is safe

Parent Interventions

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at the University of Michigan has found that parents from lower-income families are less likely to describe their home tap water as safe, say their water has been tested or feel confident in the quality of drinking fountain water at their child's school compared with higher-income peers. Two-thirds of parents from households earning over $100,000 report that both home tap water and school drinking fountains are safe for their child to drink, compared to only half of those earning under $50,000 per year.

The nationally-representative report is based on responses from 1,940 parents who had at least one child age 2-18 years. Overall, three in four parents say their home tap water is safe for their child to drink, but another 13% say their tap water is not safe and 11% are unsure. This feedback was consistent regardless of whether the home water source was a city water system, a rural water system or well water. Sixteen percent of parents say they would know if their water is unsafe by its taste and smell. Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark, M.P.H. says that this is incorrect noting that some contaminants, such as lead, have no taste or color or odor. Parents may also judge water discolored by iron as unsafe when this is an aesthetic issue rather than a sign of unsafe water. One-third of parents also believe the city or county would notify them if there was a problem with their home water supply.

Higher-income parents were substantially more likely than those from lower-income households to say their home tap water has been tested and is safe (80% versus 62%.) Clark points to several potential factors, including that lower-priced housing may have old water lines and plumbing, and because poorer communities may have limited funding for water system upgrades.

State and federal regulations establish specific requirements for water testing, but in many cases, parents may not have thought to look for this information, Clark says. Even when parents seek out information about water safety, parents may not know where test results are posted or may not understand the technical language used in water testing reports.


Clark also notes that testing of the public water supply tests might not detect contamination that occurs within the home, such as from lead pipes, so some parents choose to do additional testing. Families relying on residential well water also should do additional testing, she says.

A common question for parents is also whether they need a home water treatment system. Clark says parents should think carefully about their family's needs and the functionality and effectiveness of the water treatment systems under consideration.

In homes where the water has tested as unsafe, a filter attached to the faucet may be sufficient to remove a contaminant like lead, she says. In cases where home tap water meets water quality standards, parents may use a water filter to improve the taste. However, some home treatment systems remove elements from water that actually improve public health and safety.

"The bottom line for parents is this: Your children need clean water to drink every day," she says. "If you have any concerns about the safety of the water at home or at school, it's very important to gather information, talk with experts, and take whatever action you think is necessary."


(Content Courtesy: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-02/mm-u-pfl021220.php)

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