10.19.18

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Calls on Secretary DeVos and Acting Administrator Wheeler to Take Immediate Action to Reduce Lead Levels in Nation’s Schools

Baldwin, Stabenow and colleagues call for the Department of Education and EPA to ensure school districts have resources needed to test for, combat lead in school drinking water

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) led 33 Senate colleagues in calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to take immediate action to protect students from lead in school drinking water.

In the letter, the Senators note a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that an estimated 41 percent of public school districts, serving 12 million students, do not test for lead in school drinking water, and where school districts did test for lead, more than a third found elevated lead levels. In Wisconsin, 169 buildings in the Milwaukee Public School System were found to have at least one fixture that supplied water with elevated lead levels.

“Given that lead exposure can result in a variety of health impacts, especially for young children, we urge you to swiftly implement GAO's recommendations to encourage more school districts to test for lead and take immediate action to combat lead in school drinking water,” wrote the Senators in their letter.

“The GAO report made clear that ED and EPA must accelerate actions to address this problem. While both of your agencies provide guidance and other resources to states and school districts regarding testing and remediating lead in drinking water, GAO found that some EPA regional offices have not communicated the importance of testing for, and remediating lead in, school drinking water to school district personnel. Furthermore, GAO found that ED and EPA do not regularly collaborate to support state and school district efforts to address lead in drinking water, despite agreeing to do so in a 2005 memorandum of understanding. In total, GAO offered ED and EPA seven recommendations that will encourage school districts to test for lead and ensure testing and remediation efforts are aligned with best practices.”

A copy of the letter and full list of Senators who signed on is available here.