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Education Desk

Education Desk: Schools And Daycares Must Test Water For Lead

Courtesy of Illinois General Assembly

Flint, Michigan's discovery of lead-laced drinking water has inspired Illinois lawmakers to look for similar problems here. A measure approved by the General Assembly last night would require schools and child care centers to test for lead in water from drinking fountains and kitchen taps.

State Rep. Sonya Harper, a Chicago Democrat, has a very personal reason for sponsoring the legislation. As she reminded colleagues, her own daughter attends a Chicago public school where the water has been found to have high levels of lead.

"And now, we will be able to provide testing for all schools, throughout the state of Illinois, so that our children can have safe drinking water," she told members of the House, as she urged them to vote yes for her bill. They did, with only one voting against the measure.

The bill had previously passed the Senate with only five nay votes.

The measure focuses on buildings constructed before the year 2000. Schools with test results higher than 5 parts per billion would be required to communicate those results directly to students' parents.

State Rep. Carol Ammons, a Democrat from Urbana, says the state will pay for the tests.

"There's some options in the school funding that they can use for this remediation if necessary and for testing," Ammons said. "Daycares may have a different source that they may go to for some granting opportunities to clean that up."

The bill also requires operators of community water supplies to identify lead service lines.

Lead can cause children to suffer a variety of health problems, ranging from head and tummy aches to brain damage.

Today, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued a statement applauding the bipartisan cooperation that led to the passage of the bill.


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