STARKVILLE, Miss. (WJTV) – A Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service program is organizing a list of qualified child care centers and schools in anticipation of funding for addressing lead in drinking water.

The SipSafe program, funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is working to reduce lead exposure in children from birth to five years.

The program is also building a list of facilities tested for lead in drinking water. Centers with sample results that show elevated levels of lead in drinking water will be flagged for funding on a first-come, first-served basis in order of participation date and highest levels of lead exposure.

Once available, the funding must be used for actions to reduce the amount of lead in the drinking water system, such as replacing faucets and fixtures.

“We encourage child care center directors and school principals to schedule one of our water testing teams now,” said Jason Barrett, MSU Extension specialist and project director. “That way, if the water sample results show lead above the action level, their center or school can be added to the priority list for when money becomes available for addressing the causes of the lead in the drinking water. We want to be prepared to get funds to those who need it most in a timely fashion, so we are developing our list now.”

Lead is harmful to human health and can negatively impact child development. While lead is a naturally occurring element, it can be toxic.