October 09, 2018

Duckworth: New Federal Funding to Test for Lead in Schools Will Help Protect Health of Illinois Children

Duckworth pushed for additional funding for the grant program


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) released the following statement after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $20 million last week for states to test for lead in drinking water at school and childcare facilities:

“When families send their children to school, they should not have to worry about the school’s drinking water being contaminated with a dangerous neurotoxin like lead,” Duckworth said. “The threat of contaminated water is a public health crisis, which is one reason I pushed for this funding to help schools across our nation make their drinking water safer for students. While this is a much-needed first step, I’ll keep working to pass the Get the Lead Out of Schools Act and other legislation to make sure our nation is doing everything possible to stop lead contamination.”

As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016, Duckworth helped lead the push for this $20 million grant program to fund lead testing in schools. As a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Duckworth pushed to include an additional $10 million in funding in the 2018 Water Resources Development Act.

Duckworth has also introduced several pieces of legislation to address the dangerous amounts of lead in our nation’s drinking water. In June of 2017, Duckworth reintroduced the Get the Lead Out of Schools Act, which would ensure periodic testing for lead contamination in schools while also providing schools with additional resources to monitor lead levels and replace outdated water infrastructure systems. Duckworth first introduced the Get the Lead Out of Schools Act in 2016 while she served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In addition, Duckworth recently introduced the bipartisan Get the Lead Out of Assisted Housing Act of 2018 with U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN) and Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI), which would protect families from lead exposure by requiring the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to inspect for lead service lines, create a grant program to address lead contamination, and allow a cross-check for lead in water when remediating a home for lead found in paint. Duckworth and Kildee introduced the NO LEAD Act of 2017 to protect clean drinking water by requiring the EPA to update the Lead and Copper rule, which regulated lead in drinking water. It would also ensure lead testing is more rigorous and results are easily available to the public.

A recent study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that less than half of school districts nationwide had tested for lead in their schools’ drinking water in the last year. Of the 43 percent of school districts that tested for lead, 37 percent found elevated lead levels. States interested in participating in the grant program for water testing can submit letters of intent to the EPA by January 11, 2019.

- 30 -