Important news! An amendment to Rule 15A NCAC 18A .2816 was adopted and approved with an October 1 (tomorrow) effective date. This amendment requires that all licensed child care centers test all drinking water faucets and food preparation sinks for lead contamination within one year, and new centers must test upon application for a license. After that, centers will need to test once every three years.

In order to monitor compliance with the new requirement, child care operators will need to provide documentation of testing during periodic sanitation inspections for review by the local health department. The gradesheet will be modified to capture this information; however, no changes to the current inspection process will occur prior to October 1, 2020 except for new centers, which are required to test prior to licensure.

Fortunately, the Environmental Health Section anticipates receiving a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to pay for the entire first round of testing. In order to take advantage of this funding, child care operators will need to wait until the grant has been awarded (anticipated this week), and a contract has been executed with a commercial laboratory to coordinate sample collection, analysis, and reporting.

If elevated concentrations of lead in water are reported, child care operators are required to take immediate action. Options include:

  • No-cost methods, such as discontinuing use of the tap if sufficient drinking water faucets are available;
  • Low-cost methods, such as replacing an old faucet with a new one; or
  • Installing and maintaining a certified water filter on the tap.

If you have questions, please contact your Environmental Health Regional Specialist or Ed Norman at (919) 707-5951 or ed.norman@dhhs.nc.gov.

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