Congresswoman’s new proposal would protect children while helping public schools remove lead from their water fountains and sinks
Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–July 18, 2016. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) today introduced legislation to protect schoolchildren nationwide from lead poisoning by improving testing and monitoring procedures in schools as well as helping school districts remove lead pipes and fixtures from their facilities. The Get the Lead Out of Schools Act would establish a lead-free school drinking water program that would reimburse schools that independently test for lead, enhance guidance for schools and child care facilities, and provide resources to help districts replace outdated, unhealthy plumbing materials with lead-free options.
“Our children should not have to worry about lead contamination in their school drinking water—they deserve better,” said Congresswoman Duckworth. “Each day we delay these improvements is another day our children’s health is at risk—not just in Chicago or Flint, but across the country. As a new mother, I won’t sit on the sidelines while our children are poisoned. I’m proud to lead this effort to help protect our kids when they are at school.”
Recent reports have indicated that tests conducted by Chicago Public Schools (CPS), which has proactively begun testing each of its facilities for contaminants, have so far found water with lead above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “actionable levels” in roughly 25 percent of the schools tested. The Congresswoman’s new legislation would help CPS, which is struggling financially, recoup the recourses and funding used to proactively protect children from lead contamination.
Congresswoman Duckworth also partnered with Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-05) this year to introduce a comprehensive legislative approach to address the nationwide contaminated drinking water crisis brought to light by ongoing problems with the public water supply in Flint, Michigan. The Representatives’ proposal for protecting the safety of America’s drinking water would both improve testing to keep potential contaminants like lead and copper out of public water supplies and provide resources to help communities remove contaminants that may already be present. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced companion measures in the U.S. Senate.
The two-pronged Duckworth-Quigley approach follows a Chicago Tribune report on possible lead contamination in drinking water due to aging water infrastructure in Chicago. The report cited a 2013 EPA study which uncovered the presence of elevated levels of lead in the drinking water of half the Chicago homes it tested. The study showed that the EPA’s lead and copper rule misses the high lead levels and potential human exposure. The Duckworth-Quigley proposal includes:
- The Copper and Lead Evaluation, Assessment and Reporting (CLEAR) Act of 2016, which would help protect Americans from being poisoned by their drinking water by codifying recent National Drinking Water Advisory Council recommendations in federal law and directing the EPA to improve reporting, testing and monitoring of lead and copper levels throughout the nation’s water infrastructure.
- The GET THE LEAD OUT Act, which would provide grants to reduce lead in community drinking water delivery systems and public drinking water supplies.