WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), introduced The Transparent Environment in School Testing (TEST) for Lead Act, the Senate companion to Rep. Donald Payne’s (D-NJ) legislation that would require states to help schools test for lead if those states receive federal funding for safe water programs.
“Under no circumstance should the health and safety of our children be jeopardized by water quality, particularly in a school,” Sen. Booker said. “America’s failure to adequately invest in our infrastructure helped cause the crisis of lead in our drinking water. This national problem demands a federal response. Ensuring that schools are systematically testing for lead in drinking water and making parents and officials aware of lead's presence will help keep kids safe. I am pleased to introduce this bill in the Senate and will work hard to advance it. Every American has a right to clean, safe drinking water.”
At a press conference today in Newark, Congressman Payne, Jr. discussed the House version of the TEST Act.
“Children across America are being poisoned by water in the schools’ drinking water,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “They are being robbed of their full potential and their basic right to safety. Meanwhile, Congress has neglected its duty to be a partner with state and local governments to crack down on lead in school drinking water. That is why the TEST for Lead Act is so important. I urge Congress to quickly pass this legislation so that we can meet the moral responsibility of protecting our children.”
While some school districts test their drinking water for lead, they are not required to do so under federal law. The TEST for Lead Act aims to help close that gap by allowing states opportunities to use Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) set aside funds to provide support for training school personnel and state assistance to the Local Educational Agency when a school finds high levels of lead; and allowing states one year after the date of enactment to establish the testing program.
The Transparent Environment in School Testing (TEST) for Lead Act
· The TEST for Lead Act would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to condition a state’s receipt of funding from the DWSRF on the state establishing a program to test for lead in the drinking water in public and charter schools.
· The local education agencies with jurisdiction over the participating schools must notify parents, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the state in which they are located within 48 hours if a level of lead exceeds EPA’s lead action level.
· Requirements include testing water from faucets used for food preparation, sinks in bathrooms, and water fountains, at least biannually at schools built prior to 1996 and at least annually at schools built in 1996 or after.