Safety advocates are warning Massachusetts officials that unsafe levels of lead school drinking water could harm students. They say the bottom line is that lead plumbing needs to be removed from aging school buildings.
After contaminated drinking water was exposed in Flint, Michigan, safety and environmental advocates in Massachusetts began pushing lawmakers and Gov. Baker to institute tough regulations for how much lead is allowed in the drinking and cooking water in schools.
Marblehead Rep. Lori Ehrlich is sponsoring a bill to mandate the removal of lead-bearing plumbing and fixtures from school, installation of filters to remove lead from water fountains and kitchen faucets.
"Children should be able to go to school and take for granted that.... the water coming out of a bubbler is safe to drink and parents should send their children off to school with that same assurance," Ehrlich said.
The report from Environment Massachusetts and the MassPIRG Education Fund gave the state's current lead regulations a D grade compared to other states. The report also calls for the state to adopt a one-part-per-billion standard as the maximum amount of lead allowable in school water.
Lawmakers said a bill to implement the recommendations will be filed this session.
The Baker administration has provided some funds to schools and towns through a technical assistance and lead testing program. The $2.75 million in funding has resulted in lead tests of over 56,000 water taps, sinks and fountains.