Statement: Authors of recent report on lead in Philly School Drinking Water Applaud Council Proposal

Media Contacts
Emma Horst-Martz

Former Advocate, PennPIRG

Councilmember Helen Gym’s legislation sets deadline of 2025 for the District to replace water fountains with lead-filtering hydration stations


PHILADELPHIA — City Councilmember Helen Gym introduced legislation on Thursday to comprehensively get the lead out of Philadelphia schools’ drinking water by 2025. The bill will require the School District of Philadelphia to replace  all school drinking fountains in the city with lead filtering hydration stations that will reduce the lead level in drinking water to less than 1ppb.


Health professionals and experts have repeatedly noted that there is no safe level of lead exposure. Lead is a potent neurotoxin that affects brain development, leading to learning disabilities, memory problems, and other lifelong health issues. A recent report from the PennPIRG Education Fund and PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center found that 98% of Philadelphia public schools tested had lead in the water and 61% of all outlets across the district tested positive for lead contamination. An interactive map is available to locate neighborhood schools and view the testing results. 


PennEnvironment and PennPIRG co-released the following statement in response to the announcement: 


PennEnvironment Executive Director David Masur:


“Schools should be safe places where our kids go to learn, achieve, and grow up to be productive citizens in society. Instead, our study showed the pervasive threat of lead in drinking water that faces Philadelphia kids when they enter our school buildings. It’s time for district officials to address this threat once and for all. Councilmember Gym’s legislation goes a long way towards helping achieve that goal, and making Philadelphia a national leader in the effort to address the threat of lead in school drinking water.”


PennPIRG Advocate, Emma Horst-Martz: 



“The science is clear, there is no safe level of lead in drinking water. Students in Philadelphia have been exposed to lead in their schools for far too long, and now the District has the resources to ensure that the water is safe to drink. If enacted, Councilmember Gym’s legislation will address this public health crisis once and for all, setting a realistic timeline and a system of accountability. We are grateful for Councilmember Gym and the cosponsors’ leadership on this critical issue, and we encourage the rest of Council to pass the bill swiftly.”