New Jersey Lawmakers Push Mandatory Lead Testing For All Schools
Mar 29, 2016 12:09 AM EDT
All schools in New Jersey are now being mandated to have their drinking water tested for contamination. This is under a new bill being proposed by lawmakers on Monday.
According to ABC 6, the proposal comes weeks after elevated lead levels in Newark schools were discovered, promoting officials to shut off sinks and drinking fountains. The elevated levels of lead were found to be present at 30 out of the 67 schools in Newark, the state's largest district.
The bill being proposed by lawmakers will provide more than $20 million for the schools not only for the lead testing but also for water filters.
New Jersey lawmakers said once they find out the scope of the lead contamination, they will make proposals to address the larger and more expensive projects and help the schools in the state to replace the old pipes and other fixtures, which often cause contamination.
Steve Sweeney, president of the state's Democrat-controlled Senate, said in a statement that they were surprised that the state had no regulations for water testing, noting that they are one of the healthiest and wealthiest states in the country. He continued that the problem was bigger than they thought and that the water is safe and clean but "some of the pipes [they] run water through have lead in them so [they]have to address the problem," NBC News reported.
After the lead testing will be done in all New Jersey schools, they will also be required to have the same tests annually thereafter, Philly.com reported. If and when the test shows 15 parts per billion, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, regarding elevated levels of lead, the schools will have to take corrective action.
New Jersey is not the only state investigating the lead problem. Last year, a bill was proposed in California required the state's health department to test drinking water in all schools. However, this was vetoed by the governor. Last week, Pennsylvania lawmakers also introduced a bill that would require drinking water in all schools to be tested for lead.