On July 18, 2018 Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) said that provisions in the recently enacted School Code will prompt school districts to test for lead in drinking water in Pennsylvania schools.
“A 2014 study by the state Department of Health found that 18 communities across Pennsylvania have children who have tested positive for increased levels of lead,” Haywood said. “We must do what we can to reduce exposure to lead and ensure that school facilities do not have lead in drinking water.”
Haywood’s legislation, Senate Bill 647, was used as the framework for language inserted in the School Code. School districts will now be required to test for lead in every facility within their district or conduct a hearing that discusses lead within their school facilities. The testing must be completed by the beginning of the upcoming school year and testing will be required in subsequent years.
“This is a step forward for school districts to be sure they are providing a healthy environment for teachers and students to focus on education,” Haywood said.
Under the new law, if testing reveals that lead levels are above the federal maximum standards, the school must develop a remediation plan and have alternative safe drinking water available.
Lead exposure came to national attention through the crisis in Flint, Michigan, where high levels of lead contamination were found in the city’s water source. Since then, state Senate Democrats have examined ways to further ensure that children are not being exposed to dangerous lead levels in their daily lives.
Haywood said that testing for lead in schools is an important step in eliminating possible exposure risks for children. Several Senate Democrats have introduced lead remediation bills.
“Ensuring the safety and education of Pennsylvania students is a priority for the Senate Democrats,” Haywood said. “We look forward to working with the superintendents and their school districts across Pennsylvania to keep students healthy and safe.”
Haywood said the state Department of Education will forward additional information to school districts about the lead testing protocol over the summer.