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Pa. lawmakers considering bill to require lead testing in schools

Jamie Martines
| Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, 3:42 p.m.
Eigth-grader John Doran, 13, helps clean up water pitchers after lunch at Environmental Charter School in Regent Square on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Doran said he's relieved his school replaced three sinks that demonstrated a low risk of lead during testing. 'It's important for schools to test their water because they need to make sure that all the kids' safety needs are met so that they stay healthy,' Doran told the Trib.
Natasha Lindstrom | Tribune-Review
Eigth-grader John Doran, 13, helps clean up water pitchers after lunch at Environmental Charter School in Regent Square on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Doran said he's relieved his school replaced three sinks that demonstrated a low risk of lead during testing. 'It's important for schools to test their water because they need to make sure that all the kids' safety needs are met so that they stay healthy,' Doran told the Trib.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that will require Pennsylvania schools to test for lead in their buildings' drinking water.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Karen Boback, R-Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming Counties, was moved to the House Education Committee Monday.

It would require schools to test all outlets used for drinking and cooking for lead contamination by June 30, 2019. After that, testing and remediation would be required every two years.

Rules and regulations for testing the water would be established by the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Education. The bill defines lead contamination as the presence of lead equal to five parts per billion.

School-age children are among the most vulnerable to the neurotoxin, which can damage the brain and lead to development, learning, hearing and speech problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Allegheny County approved legislation in July 2017 that requires all children ages 1 and 2 to be tested for lead. But the depth of the lead problem in area schools remains unclear. Many area schools have opted to test for lead in recent years; however, like dozens of other states, Pennsylvania does not require public schools to test for lead.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at jmartines@tribweb.com, 724-850-2867 or on Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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