Legislative Director, MASSPIRG
Legislative Director, MASSPIRG
For Immediate Release 10.30.17
Deirdre Cummings, 978-201-6093, [email protected]
MASSPIRG Urges State House Committee to Get the Lead Out
(Lenox, MA) MASSPIRG called on state lawmakers to pass a bill to get the lead out of drinking water at Massachusetts schools and day care centers at a public hearing in Lenox, MA.
Testifying before the Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee, Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG’s legislative director urged the committee to pass SB 456/HB 2915, An Act ensuring safe drinking water at schools and early childhood programs filed by Senator Lovely, Representative Ehrlich and a bipartisan group of 76 legislative cosponsors to get the lead out of our schools and daycare centers.
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 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
SB 456/HB 2915 protects children’s health by getting the lead out of the water at all schools and child care centers requiring; the removal of lead service lines, the largest single source of lead in water; the installation of NSF-certified filters on faucets or fountains; and the testing of drinking/cooking water at schools regularly. The bill requires the immediate shut-off of outlets with elevated levels of lead.
“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,” testified Cummings. “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.”
While the medical science is more advanced now, lead has been used since Roman times. Lead has been woven into the fabric of our economy. Manufacturers put lead into our paint, our plumbing, our gasoline, and many other products.
“For the past few decades,” continued Cummings, “public health advocates and officials have been working to undo the damage. Banning lead in gasoline immediately removed a major source of toxic air pollution. Barring lead in paint stopped a major threat to children’s health from becoming even worse, but we are still cleaning up the damage from millions of homes with lead paint, as well as related lead in dust and soil.”
“Yet until recently, few Americans paid as much attention to another pervasive pathway for this potent toxin: the delivery system that brings drinking water right to our faucets. In the wake of Flint, we now know that thousands of communities across the country and our commonwealth have lead in their drinking water. While water pipes made entirely of lead pose the greatest threat, many homes and buildings have enough lead in their plumbing and fixtures to create a risk of water contamination.”
“Massachusetts has often been a leader on public health,” said John Rumpler, Environment America’s Boston-based senior attorney, who is working with MASSPIRG and groups in several other states to address lead in schools’ water. “The bill(s) before the committee today are critical to ensuring safe drinking water where our children go each day to learn and grow.”
“The good news is that we know how to get the lead out of drinking water,” concluded Cummings, “we just need the leadership and commitment to do so. Passing this bill will ensure our kids, their teachers, and the school community will be protected from lead poisoning.”