Assemblymember Chris Holden Introduces Lead Testing Bill for TK-12 Schools

For immediate release:

Sacramento, CA – Today, Assemblymember Chris Holden introduced, AB 249, School-site Lead Testing, which requires water utilities to test water faucets and fixtures in Transitional Kindergarten (TK)-12 schools for lead concentrations greater than five parts per a billion (5 ppb) over the next five years and replace fixtures that test above the standard.

“Lead consumption among youth and disenfranchised communities occurs at a higher rate,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “Assisting schools with the resources and appropriate standards to ensure the water fountains our children drink from are safe will help us protect our schools, students and communities.”

While there is no safe amount of lead content in drinking water, children are particularly vulnerable to elevated levels of lead exposure, which can lead to adverse cardiovascular, renal, reproductive, immunological, and neurological effects, and cancer. The federal government and state of California have enhanced lead testing standards and processes, but the misalignment of lead testing standards for childcare centers and TK-12 schools leaves room for important improvements for long-term results and safety.

“Lead is a neurotoxin that can permanently damage young children’s nervous systems,” said Susan Little, Environmental Working Group’s senior advocate of government affairs in California. “Even small amounts of lead can lower a child’s intelligence, cause behavior and learning problems, slow growth and harm hearing. The Centers for Disease Control states that there is no safe level of lead.  This harmful substance doesn’t belong in the drinking water children consume at school.”

“Lead exposure is a health, education, and racial justice issue for our kids,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, a statewide children’s advocacy organization. “We thank Assemblymember Holden for authoring this legislation to protect students from lead in drinking water, and we are pleased to partner with Environmental Working Group to co-sponsor the bill. Children Now is committed to ensuring that schools have the supports and resources they need to keep kids safe.”

“In 2018, I introduced AB 2370 which required the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to adopt regulations for lead testing of child day care centers as a part of the Department’s Child Care Licensing Program,” said Holden. “It also ushered child day care centers to test their drinking water once every five years. By aligning childcare and school lead testing standards we can protect children from the toxic effects of lead.”