More than 15 percent of the faucets and taps that provide Vermont schools with drinking water show elevated levels of lead, according to the Vermont Department of Health.

State health commissioner Mark Levine said the department screened 450 schools and 1,000 childcare facilities. Of the 15,000 taps and faucets tested, more than 2,500 were found to have higher than usual lead levels.

Vermont passed a law in 2019 requiring schools and child care facilities to test their drinking and cooking water for lead, a highly toxic metal, and take corrective action if levels were found at or above the state action level of 4 parts per billion.  The state has completed testing at 98% of the Vermont’s schools and child care centers, the health department said Wednesday.

Levine says the problems found in the most recent screening is in the faucet, not the internal water system. The state provided funding to reimburse schools and child care centers for remediation costs, 90% of which cost less than $500.

Because lead can leach into drinking water from older plumbing and fixtures, Vermont required schools and child care facilities to test all the taps , and to repeat the testing every three years.

Levine said there is no safe amount of lead, and exposure can stunt development in children and teens, harming their ability to learn and grow.

Schools and childcare facilities will be tested again in three years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.