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Leaders Call on Legislature to Get the Lead Out of School Drinking Water
(Boston, MA) Public health leaders and organizations called on state lawmakers to pass a bill to get the lead out of drinking water at Massachusetts schools and day care centers at a public hearing at the State House today.
Testifying before the Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Committee, public health groups and leaders urged the committee to pass
S 500/H774, An Act ensuring safe drinking water at schools filed by Senator Joan Lovely (Salem), Representative Lori Ehrlich (Marblehead), and a bipartisan group of 79 legislative cosponsors to get the lead out of our schools and daycare centers.
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 tested positive for lead. 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 and called for by a new federal and state guidance for schools and child care facilities.
"Children are at especially high risk of serious harm from lead poisoning because lead is particularly toxic to their rapidly growing and developing brains, and it can seriously alter a child's ability to learn, communicate, pay attention, and control their behavior, testified Sean Palfrey, MD, Medical Director, Boston Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Boston Medical Center. Studies show that there is no safe level of lead, and it can not only harm a child for the rest of his or her life, but can be passed from a mother to her children years after an original exposure."
“The good news is that we know how to get the lead out of drinking water,” said Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG’s legislative director, “We just need the leadership and commitment to do so. Passing this bill will ensure our kids, their teachers, and the school community will be protected from lead poisoning.”
“The strong turnout and testimony by elected officials and environmental advocates alike at today’s Environmental Committee hearing demonstrate the wisdom of de-leading the Commonwealth’s school drinking water,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely (Salem). “The inclusion of $5 million in the supplemental budget represents an important down payment that passage of the bills that Rep. Ehrlich and I filed will help realize to ensure that Massachusetts students can get educated without drinking toxins when using school water fountains.”
“Students and their teachers deserve drinking water that doesn’t poison them when they go to school. Now that test results have given us the contours of the public health crisis, now is the time to act, said Representative Lori Ehrlich (Marblehead).”
“Everyone should have access to clean, safe drinking water — especially our kids, whose health is most at risk from lead pollution,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “With thousands of tests showing lead in Massachusetts' schools, we can't afford to waste any time to protect children from this clear health threat."
S 500/H 774, An Act ensuring safe drinking water at schools, protects children’s health by getting the lead out of the water at all schools and child care centers by 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 regular and transparent testing of water at schools. The bill establishes a health-based lead level standard for schools and child care centers of 1 ppb and requires the immediate shut-off of outlets with elevated levels of lead.
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