Senate passes S. 40, takes step toward protecting children from lead in school drinking water

 

BREAKING: Earlier today the Vermont Senate unanimously passed S. 40 – a bill that will take a huge step forward to protect Vermont children from lead exposure.

We applaud the effort and the focus of Senators to get this important bill passed. This bill includes the following: mandatory testing for all schools and childcare facilities no later than Jan 1, 2020, followed by ongoing testing; required remediation or retirement of taps that result in unsafe levels of lead; a public database and parent notification of test results; and state funding for testing and remediation.

The bill would also set the action level on lead at 3 parts per billion. While this is better than what the Scott administration had proposed, it’s not quite as strong as the 1 ppb standard recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Therefore, we’ll press the House to make the standard even more protective of kids’ health.

We would also like to see proactive requirements to identify and remove fountains, fixtures, and plumbing with lead. Results at the same tap can vary over time as lead contamination is caused by corrosion, and testing may not tell us the full extent of exposure.

Remember, the risk here is real. Lead is a potent neurotoxin, and exposure to even very low levels can result in lifelong, irreversible consequences. Children are especially susceptible to lead poisoning, and lead exposure can cause attention disorders, loss of IQ, delayed learning, and behavioral, kidney and hearing problems.

The victory in the Senate today is BIG – and we thank all of the Senators who channeled their time and energy into passing S. 40. We’re particularly grateful to Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe and Sen. Phil Baruth, chairman of the Education Committee, for their leadership on this issue.

This bill will now move to the House, where we will continue to work with legislators to not only pass it, but hopefully make it even stronger.

For more information on lead and ways to reduce exposure, check out USPIRG’s Lead Toolkit here: https://uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/resources/Lead%20Free%20Toolkit%20Oct18pdf.pdf