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Legislature approves $5 million for schools to get lead out of drinking water
MASSPIRG applauds lawmakers’ action
BOSTON – The Massachusetts state legislature has approved the 2019 Supplemental Budget, and for the first time, it provides money for schools to tackle the growing problem of lead in school drinking water. The budget is now on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.
The provision broadens the scope of an already-approved 2018 Water Pollution Abatement State Revolving Fund, and allows the state to spend $5 million of the fund on lead remediation in childcare centers and public schools, prioritizing elementary schools. This money will provide schools with water filters and water filling stations certified to remove lead.
Lead is a potent neurotoxin that impairs how our children develop, learn and behave. Yet, the state Department of Environmental Protection, says it found lead in the water from more than half of the 43,000 taps tested from 980 schools across Massachusetts since 2016. 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.
MASSPIRG Legislative Director Deirdre Cummings released the following statement on passage of the budget.
“This is great news. The health and safety of our children is priceless. Time and time again, Massachusetts has been a leader in protecting our children’s health and safety, and we are pleased once again to be ahead of the curve and leading the way in getting the lead out of drinking water in schools and day care centers.
We also want to thank the legislative leadership of Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Spilka, Ways and Means Chairmen Michlewitz and Rodrigues; and Rep. Lori Ehrlich and Senator Joan Lovely, co-sponsors of S 500/H 774, An Act ensuring safe drinking water at schools, for their tireless advocacy for getting lead out of school drinking water.
Finally, while ensuring safe drinking water for all Massachusetts children will ultimately require more resources, this act provides a significant down payment for eliminating exposure to lead at school, and will protect the health of students across the commonwealth.”
For more information, please see Get the Lead Out , a report, which graded 32 states’ policies for addressing lead in school drinking water.
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