Healthy Schools Network Lauds Passage of NYS Lead in School Drinkng Water Legislation

New York Bill Updates the Stae's 2016 Safe School Drinking Water Standards
ALBANY, N.Y. - June 10, 2021 - PRLog -- Ending the pandemic school year with great news for children and school personnel, the New York State Legislature this week unanimously passed S. 2122-A/A. 160-B (Rivera/Gottfried).a bill that will reduce the action level of lead in school drinking water to 5 parts per billion (ppb) from 15 ppb set by the state in 2016.

Claire L. Barnett, Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network, "This is an unprecedented quadruple win for kids and for our schools. With an action level set at 5 ppb, more frequent testing, and the elimination of the "lead-free" waiver, New York is again a national leader on this issue. We are delighted that beyond school building aid, there are clean water funds that can cover remediation costs."

Healthy Schools Network, co-led the multi-year campaign with the New York League of Conservation Voters, NRDC, and WEACT which also included the NYS United Teachers, the Academy of Pediatrics, NYS PTA, the Children's Defense Fund-NY, and Clean and Healthy New York, and many other groups.

Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, "With this bill, we'll have safer, cleaner drinking water in our public schools. We are thrilled that Senator Rivera, Senator Mayer, and Assemblymember Gottfried worked to get this bill passed before the end of the session. We are also thankful to Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie for restoring New York's leadership on this issue.  We urge the Governor to sign the bill before the school year ends."

"We need to ensure schools are safe and healthy environments for our children. I am proud that we were able to pass my bill to expand water testing in schools in an effort to get us closer to having a completely lead-free school system throughout New York State,:   said State Senator Gustavo Rivera.

"The health and well-being of our children depend on us making every effort to identify lead poisoning as early as possible and at levels that reflect best practices in public health and prevention," said Assemblymember Richard Gottfried.  "Lead poisoning can cause irreversible damage to a child's brain. Prevention is critical."

"Kids deserve clean, healthy water to drink in their schools, and this legislation is the pathway to get there," said Joan Leary Matthews, Senior Attorney and Director of Urban Water at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). "A significant improvement put forth by this bill is lowering the lead action level from 15 parts per billion to 5 parts per billion."

"We are so excited to see the Lead in School Drinking Water bill pass the Senate and Assembly this session,  Children are the most vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead. And according to a 2020 study, Black children in the United States are nearly three times more likely to have highly elevated blood-lead levels," said Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

"We congratulate our legislators for the passage of the Safe Drinking Water in Schools Act," said Dr. Warren Seigel, MD, MBA, FAAP, Chair of NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, District II. As pediatricians, we know that there is no safe level of lead for children. We also know that schools should be safe environments for all children."

"Addressing lead in school drinking water is a critical part of ensuring that every child has access to safe, healthy schools," New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said. "This bill affirms that New York state is committed to creating healthy environments for our students and school staff, and we thank the Legislature for helping move our schools in the right direction."

"Children attend school to sharpen their minds – and shouldn't be drinking water laced with a chemical that can do just the opposite. On behalf of the JustGreen Partnership, we applaud the leadership of Senator Rivera and Assemblymember Gottfried to improve the law on lead in school drinking water and better protect children's health," said Bobbi Wilding, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York.

"We are so thankful to the legislature for the passage of this critical important legislation, which will truly protect our children," offered Dana Platin NYS PTA President. "Access to clean and safe water, especially in our schools, is of highest priority for NYS PTA.  This bill reflects the work of many in the environmental and education community, and together we will continue to work to ensure our children are free from harmful lead in all places," said Kyle Belokopitsky, NYS PTA Executive Director.

In 2016, New York became the first state to require all public schools to test for and remediate lead in drinking water with levels above 15 ppb when it passed the Safe School Drinking Water Act. Since 2016, several states such as Montana, Illinois, Vermont, and the District of Columbia have reduced their action levels to 5 ppb or less. As of April this year, the US Environmental Protection Agency had provided test at the tap in schools grants to all fifty states, plus the District.

Barnett added, "We applaud the NY LCV deep data-drive report, 5 is the new 15, issued this year which fueled this campaign."  It included a detailed analysis of lab reports from 90% of all New York State school districts that were already identified in the State's 2016 data, found that an additional 63,428 drinking water outlets, or 17.2%, currently in use that would need remediation under a more protective standard of 5 ppb compared to the current action level of 15 ppb.

For more information about school environments and children's environmental health, visit www.HealthySchools.org

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