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More than 40 percent of schools don't test drinking water for lead, study finds

Most school districts in the U.S. are not testing their drinking water for lead, a Government Accountability Office report published Tuesday found.

The finding, reported Wednesday by Stat, paints an alarming picture for water safety. Just 4 in 10 school districts conducted tests in 2016 and 2017, but 37 percent of the schools that ran tests found elevated levels of lead in drinking water.

While 43 percent of schools conducted lead tests, 41 percent of schools did not, and 16 percent didn't know whether the water had been tested. Congressional Democrats, who requested the report, called the findings "disturbing and unacceptable" and called for "immediate action" from the Trump administration.

"The administration should finalize a stronger Lead and Copper Rule and issue protective guidance requiring lead testing for all public schools," said the lawmakers in a press release. The GAO also recommended that the EPA implement new guiding rules on how schools test lead levels.

Elevated lead exposure is linked with numerous health concerns, reports Stat, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says lead can have severe consequences on brain development and children's nervous systems.