ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Today, Gov. Hogan will sign the Safe School Drinking Water Act, which will strengthen the state’s protections against lead in school drinking water. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Cory McCray and Del. Jared Solomon, requires schools to remediate lead in drinking water taps that test above five parts per billion.
In 2017, Maryland PIRG helped pass legislation to establish testing and standards for lead in school drinking water. Maryland was one of the first states in the country to establish lead standards at schools, and the testing ultimately revealed contamination in school taps throughout the state. Maryland PIRG has long called on the state to take a more proactive stance against lead contamination to protect public health.
Maryland PIRG and Environment Maryland in 2019 released a report, entitled Get the Lead Out: on addressing lead in school Drinking Water. The report gave Maryland a “C” on protecting kids from lead in school drinking water. Lowering the lead level where action must be taken is one of the most important things the state can do to strengthen the law.
In response, Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr and Environment Maryland Associate Mariah Mackenzie released the following statements:
“By requiring testing and remediation and expanding grant funding, Maryland has made big strides to protect our kids from lead in school drinking water. Even at low levels, lead is especially damaging for children’s brains. It impairs how they learn, grow and behave. But state required testing has revealed dangerous levels of lead throughout Maryland. We’re grateful for the steadfast support from Sen. McCray and Del. Solomon. We also want to recognize the work of the Maryland State Education Association, Baltimore Teachers Union, parent teacher associations, health professionals and hundreds of concerned parents from across the state who have supported this bill for years,” said Scarr.
“This is a big victory for our children and schools,” said Mackenzie. “There is no safe level for lead in school drinking water. The only way to ensure safe drinking water for our children is to get the lead out. This means removing lead-bearing parts from service lines, faucets and fixtures, and installing filters certified to remove lead at every tap used for drinking or cooking. As our students return to in-person learning, let’s renew our commitment to making sure they’re safe and protected from this dangerous neurotoxin.”
Maryland PIRG is a state based, non-partisan, citizen funded public interest advocacy organization with grassroots members across the state. Maryland PIRG’s role is to find common ground around commonsense solutions that will make our future healthier, safer and more secure.
Environment Maryland is a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization. We work to protect clean air, clean water, and open space.