Major lead prevention legislation passes key committee
Nearly 1.5 million Michigan children are one step closer to drinking lead-safe water in their schools and daycare centers thanks to two votes in the Michigan Legislature.
Senate Bills 184 and 185 both passed out of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality with 5-0-1 votes on Nov. 30. They head to the Senate floor.
Bills 184 and 185—sponsored by Sens. Curtis VanderWall (R-Ludington) and Jim Ananich (D-Flint) respectively—require all schools in Michigan to install lead filters on taps and lead-filtered water bottle stations. They also require all childcare centers to provide only filtered water to children. A water infrastructure budget proposal by Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo) would fund filter installation and maintenance. It passed the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously Dec. 1.
The bills are supported by 30 environmental, health, education and engineering leaders.
"A recent nationwide study of children tested for lead showed that more than 75% of Michigan children who were tested had lead in their bodies," said Jonathan Gold, MD FAAP, government affairs advocacy committee chair of the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "No amount of lead is safe. Lead can cause developmental delays, stunt growth, and create behavioral problems. By installing lead filters in schools and daycares, we can keep these symptoms from forming or exacerbating and help our kids excel now and far in the future."
Filtering out lead in schools and daycares is especially important because it is where children spend much of their time, said Charlotte Jameson, chief policy officer for the Michigan Environmental Council. These buildings' water systems, whether new or old, are also prone to lead leaching. When water is not used over weekends or breaks, corrosion control chemicals become less effective.
"All children should have drinking water that is lead-free," Jameson said. "Our schools face huge challenges, but protecting kids from lead is one that we can address. The most protective and cost-effective way to reduce lead exposure from drinking water in schools and childcare centers is by installing filters at the point of use. We are glad to see Republican and Democratic Senators prioritize protecting our water and our children by moving these bills forward."
If Senate Bills 184 and 185 are signed by the Governor, the resulting laws would be the first of their kind in the nation.