In Washington State many students consume lead along with their drinking water. There is no known safe level of lead consumption, and lead can cause life long challenges including lower IQs and behavioral problems. This is a known problem in Seattle (https://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/lead-persists-in-the-water-at-many-seattle-schools-does-chicago-have-a-solution/). This year we have an opportunity to weigh in for better state regulation and financial support for improvement.
If this issue moves you please consider writing to your state representatives (https://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/). This issue affects every child in Washington state – you may wish to encourage your friends and family members around the state to similarly weigh in.
Sample letter text follows here, but note that personal stories are always appreciated.
I am a PTA member at Cascadia Elementary in your district. I’m writing to you to voice my support for 2021’s upcoming Lead in School Water Bill. We have an urgent responsibility to ensure our students have safe drinking water when they come back to in-person learning.
There is no safe level of lead exposure for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), CDC, and the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) agree that we should be doing everything we can to protect kids from lead in their environments. Even at low levels of exposure, lead contamination can lead to neurological, behavioral and emotional deficiencies.
Washington state has funded the Department of Health’s voluntary testing program since 2018. Recent analysis of these reports reveals that 82% of tested schools had at least one outlet that returned levels of at least 5 parts per billion (ppb). In order to protect our most vulnerable learners, we must mandate testing for every public school, and apply a health-based standard for lead action levels.
Fixing lead-contaminated drinking water outlets at schools is a practical, affordable, and necessary investment in our children’s lifelong health. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has requested $3 million for lead remediation in the 2021-2023 budget biennium. This Capital Budget fund will cover corrective costs incurred by school districts.
We must lower the state’s action level to 5 ppb, and mandate testing at every public school on every drinking water outlet. Last year, HB 1860 Addressing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools passed unanimously. This year, Rep. Pollet will introduce a new bill. As a concerned parent, I urge you to vote for this bill’s passage.