MA Senate moves to Get the Lead Out

By Deirdre Cummings
Legislative Director

Getting the Lead Out – MA State Senate passes amendment for lead remediation in schools

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that impairs how our children develop, learn and behave.  Yet, according to the lead testing data from the Department of Environmental Protection, more than half of the 43,000 taps tested from 980 schools across Massachusetts since 2016 were found to have lead in the water. The vast majority of those lead levels were in concentrations greater than the 1 part per billion (ppb) limit for lead recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Massachusetts Senate took an important first step to begin to address this pervasive health threat. By a 39-0 vote, the senate passed Amendment #26, authored by Senator Lovely, Authorizing De-leading in Schools, which broadens the scope of the 2018 Water Pollution Abatement State Revolving Fund. If included in the final budget, the amendment would allow up to $5 million from the fund to be spent on lead remediation in schools. We are appreciative of Senator Lovely’s leadership on passing the amendment.

While this is an important step in protecting our children from exposure to lead, we have much more work to do. We now need to pass the An Act ensuring safe drinking water at schools, Sen. Joan Lovely (S 500) & Rep. Lori Ehrlich (H 774). This bill, cosponsored by 82 legislators, protects children’s health by getting the lead out of the water at all schools and child care centers requiring; the removal of lead service lines, the largest single source of lead in water; the installation of lead certified filters or water filling stations; and the testing of water at schools regularly. The bill establishes a health-based lead level standard for schools and day care centers of 1ppb and requires the immediate shut-off of outlets with elevated levels of lead.

The budget now heads to a 6 member Conference Committee to work out the differences between the house and senate passed budgets.  The amendment will need to win the support off the Committee before being sent to Governor Baker for his approval.


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