RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water (ODW) announced the launch of a statewide program on Friday that will test the drinking water of Virginia schools and child care centers.

This free program is funded by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and is a way for public schools and child care facilities to reduce exposure to lead in their water. The program currently has around $1.1 million in funding, which will allow the ODW to collect and analyze 40,000 samples.

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“This program is an amazing opportunity to partner with schools and child care centers to help identify and reduce lead exposure in drinking water in children,” said Dr. Tony Singh, deputy director of the Office of Drinking Water. “Every action we take to reduce lead exposures improves the health of our children.”

Virginia public schools and child care centers that are interested in participating should enroll on the program’s website and selected participants will be contacted by the VDH team.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead can be especially harmful to children because it could interfere with their brain development.

For more information about the program, visit leadinvawater.org or email info@leadinvawater.org.