Bill to get the lead out of school drinking water clears major hurdle

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MASSPIRG applauds committee action, looks ahead to final passage


Bill to get the lead out of school drinking water clears major hurdle

MASSPIRG applauds committee action, looks ahead to final passage

BOSTON – Massachusetts is one step closer to getting the lead out of the drinking water in schools and daycare centers across the state. The legislature’s Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Committee unanimously passed S2503, An Act ensuring safe drinking water at schools.

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.

“Passing this bill will immediately improve the health and safety of our children, their teachers and staff, and all those who visit and participate in school programs,” said Deirdre Cummings, legislative director of MASSPIRG. “We commend Chairman Smitty Pignatelli (Lenox) and Chairwoman Anne Gobi (Spencer) for their leadership and commitment in protecting children’s health.”

S2503 was filed by State Sen. Joan Lovely (Salem), Rep. Lori Ehrlich (Marblehead), and a bipartisan group of 79 legislative cosponsors. It requires: 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 also 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.

Many groups’ support and advocacy were and continue to be instrumental to moving the bill forward, including the Massachusetts PTA, Environment Massachusetts, Massachusetts Public Health Association, Toxics Action Center, Conservation Law Foundation, Clean Water Action, American Heart Association,  and the more than 100 medical professionals including Sean Palfrey, MD, Medical Director, Boston Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Boston Medical Center.       

“Time and time again, Massachusetts has been a leader in protecting our children’s health and safety. Massachusetts should take this opportunity and put ourselves ahead of the curve in getting the lead out of drinking water in schools and day care centers in the commonwealth,” concluded Cummings.

Last month, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Treasurer Goldberg launched a new state-wide program called Massachusetts SWIG to provide schools with water filling stations certified to remove lead and provide free water testing for those schools that have yet to test their water.

The bill now is before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.


For more information, please see  Get the Lead Out , a report, which graded 32 states’ policies for addressing lead in school drinking water.

staff | TPIN

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