“As a University of Washington School of Public Health faculty member, I was taken by surprise by repeated statements from school officials and state and local agencies in the past year that lead levels in our schools or children’s homes were “safe,” based on tests that showed the lead levels did not exceed 15 or 20 ppb (parts per billion).
“Students and colleagues asked me how public officials could make such pronouncements to assure people that their children’s water was “safe,” when it has been clearly documented that these levels of lead in children’s drinking water have caused adverse health effects, neurological development and learning impacts.
“School water should NOT be a cause of lower IQ and learning disabilities. This is particularly important for lower income students whose homes may also have elevated lead.
“The best summaries of the strong evidence that levels above 1 or 2 ppb are known to result in lower IQ and adverse neurological and brain development are probably the work of the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the findings support the American Academy of Pediatricians’ Recommendation that the action level for lead be reduced to 1 ppb.
“This bill (HB 1925) proposes that the American Academy of Pediatricians recommended action level of 1 ppb of lead in water should be used as an action level in our state’s schools.
“When this level is exceeded, two actions should be triggered:
- Use of National Sanitary Foundation certified lead removal filters – which are inexpensive (or removal of the water outlet from service if the school believes it doesn’t need that water outlet);
- Notification to parents, teachers and the district of the lead level found in excess of 1ppb
“I urge you not to let agencies’ or school districts’ concern that the filters may not reduce lead below 1 ppb prevent you from taking any action at all in utilizing this as a level of concern for lead in school drinking water.
“Would they really prefer no action at all because removal of all lead may not be readily economically viable and allow lead to remain unreported without any reduction in levels when it is above the level we know for a fact can reduce children’s permanent ability to learn?
“I urge Committee members to take the simple action to protect our school children from levels of lead in school drinking water at levels which we know causes harm.
“A substitute which removes the longer term plans and renovations beyond inexpensive filter use would be acceptable, because once parents and the school community knows that school has outlets exceeding 1 ppb, I trust that plans for future renovations will address permanent remediation.”