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Two Bills Requiring Testing of School Water for Lead Moving Through Legislature

April 24, 2017

California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) has introduced Assembly Bill 746, which would require the testing of water at schools for lead.

“Lead exposure has real consequences and it’s unacceptable that children and teachers could be poisoned by drinking from the water fountains at school. School districts need to be proactive in making sure their students and staff are drinking safe, lead-free water.” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher said. “Protecting the health of our kids is our first priority, and right now, we don’t know if they are truly being protected from lead in their drinking water.”

Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher introduced AB 746 to require all public pre-K-12 schools and Community College, CSU and UC campuses test their water for lead contamination. If contaminated water is found, the bill requires the contaminated water sources be shut off immediately, and that staff and parents of students be notified of their potential exposure to lead. In January, administrators at La Mirada Elementary School in the San Ysidro community of San Diego announced that the water being served at the school tested positive for lead. Following the announcement from La Mirada Elementary, two other schools – Emerson-Bandini Elementary and the San Diego Cooperative Charter School 2 – tested their water and discovered lead contamination as well.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are no safe levels of lead. Long-term exposure to lead causes a number of health problems, including brain damage that affects learning and mental abilities. A national survey completed by Reuters News in 2016 found that California was home to eight of the zip codes with highest lead contamination rates in the nation.

On April 4, AB 746 was approved on a bipartisan, unanimous vote by the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety & Toxic Materials by Chairman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) and Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), Brian Dahle (R-Lassen County), Phillip Chen (R-Diamond Bar), Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) and Chris Holden (D-Pasadena). The bill was amended on April 18 and is now working its way through legislative committees.

Gonzalez Fletcher’s bill is not the only one seeking to address lead in school drinking water. Assemblymember Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) has introduced AB 885, which initially required most schools to install water filters before they were tested for lead, something that drew opposition from some school officials. The bill was amended on April 18 in an effort to address some of those concerns.

Sources:  Office of Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, EdBrief staff.



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