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Senate Passes Bill Addressing Lead in Drinking Water at Schools and Day Care Centers
Environmental and Public Health Groups Praise Action
(Boston) The Senate passed a bill today tackling the problem of lead in drinking water. The bill establishes a commission on remediating lead in the drinking water of schools and early childhood centers (H. 2595).
Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG’s Legislative Director praised the Senate’s action and the leadership of Senator Joan Lovely (Salem) and Representative Lori Ehrlich (Marblehead) initial bill sponsors; and the chairs of the Joint Committee on Environmental Protection, Senator Anne Gobi (Spencer) and Representative “Smitty” Pignatelli (Lenox).
“We know we have a significant problem,” said Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG’s Legislative Director. “Lead is a potent neurotoxin that affects how our children develop, learn, and behave. Yet almost half (49%) of the 67,000 taps tested at our public schools as of August 4th, 2017 by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) found some level of lead in the water. The vast majority of those lead levels were in concentrations greater than 1 part per billion, the standard endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”
“While the commission, if passed would be an important step in the right direction, we don’t need a commission to solve the problem,” added Cummings.
“The DEP’s test results are already showing that lead contamination of schools' drinking water is widespread here in Massachusetts," said Ben Hellerstein, Director of Environment Massachusetts. “Governor Baker need not wait for a bill to pass or the legislature to appoint a commission; he can act now to ensure lead-free drinking water for our children at school.”
Children are especially at risk to lead poisoning and health problems related to lead exposure, as physical and behavioral effects have been shown to occur at lower exposure levels in younger people. There is no safe level of lead exposure according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is particularly true for children, as lead has been shown to bio-accumulate in the body over time with repeated exposure.
“Do we really want to wait for more tests to show that our kids have been drinking lead?” asked Sylvia Broude, Executive Director of Toxics Action Center. “Parents are especially eager to see action and deserve to know that their children are safe. It’s time to get the lead out.”
“From Illinois to San Diego to the District of Columbia, other jurisdictions are moving forward with policies to protect our children from lead-tainted water at school," said John Rumpler, senior attorney at Environment America and co-author of a landmark study on the issue. Link to national map of lead in drinking water.
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