Justice for Children Poisoned by Drinking Water

Target: Portland Mayor Charlie Hales

Goal: Demand someone be held accountable for the lead in Portland’s water.

For more than a month, two schools in Portland were forced to supply their students with bottled water because the water fountains were found to have high levels of lead in them. Even worse, students were drinking the poisoned water for three months before the Portland Public School District (PPS) disclosed the issue. It’s time to demand that someone be held accountable for Portland’s poisoned drinking water.

Water test results reportedly didn’t reach the schools until months after testing, when the Superintendent of PPS, Carole Smith, sent an email apologizing for never notifying the parents and faculty. In the same email, Smith noted that the water fountains had not yet been shut off, which infuriated parents. Immediately afterward, parents were demanding to know who was responsible for this, why they hadn’t been notified sooner, and what the school district was going to do about it.

Out of the 225 children and faculty exposed to the dangerous water, only two were found with high enough levels of lead to warrant further testing, but this is two too many. The CDC says that there is no safe level of lead exposure and it’s known that lead exposure can cause brain damage and nervous system damage, especially in children.

The Oregonian reported earlier in 2016 that Portland water has one of the highest levels of lead in the country, yet there are minimal protections in place to treat the water for this problem. People are more worried about what’s in their drinking water than ever, yet the city government has done little to solve the problem. Demand immediate action on this pressing issue.


Dear Charlie Hales,

Two schools were forced to change their sources of drinking water because of high exposures of lead. Children were found with elevated levels of the heavy metal in their blood. Yet nothing has come from the City of Portland that indicates something is being done about it.

While PPS is going to test all of its schools’ water over the summer and look into how this happened, that is the minimum of what they need to do to correct this horrible mishap. There needs to be some sort of official response from the government that indicates that whoever allowed this to happen shall be severely punished in order to reassure the citizens of Portland that this won’t happen again. The lack of response to this serious public health issue has been disconcerting to say the least.

Citizens don’t feel like they can count on the government to enact legitimate change to protect public health. This is why we are demanding that someone be held accountable for the poisoning of school children. The main job of a local government is to ensure the safety of the people they govern, and allowing the poisoning of city drinking water to occur without enacting any sort of legitimate change is something that cannot continue. Be a respectable leader and hold somebody accountable for poisoning children’s drinking water.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: iStock

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