Councilmember Cheh was joined by the full Council for the introduction of the “Childhood Lead Exposure Prevention Amendment Act of 2016”
Washington, D.C. —Today, July 12th, Councilmember Cheh, Chair of the Committee on Transportation & the Environment (T&E), was joined by Chairman Mendelson and Councilmembers Grosso, Allen, Silverman, Todd, McDuffie, Bonds, Evans, Alexander, May, and Nadeau for the introduction of the “Childhood Lead Exposure Prevention Amendment Act of 2016.” The bill amends the Healthy Schools Act and the Healthy Tots Act to strengthen the requirements for lead testing and remediation in the District’s public schools, public charter schools, and licensed child development facilities. Specifically, it instructs DGS to install and maintain filters in both the public and charter schools and requires licensed child development facilities to meet the same filter installation and maintenance standards.
“Children in the District of Columbia deserve access to safe, clean drinking water, and it is time for the government to adopt a proactive –rather than reactive, strategy towards lead control in our public water sources. The “Childhood Lead Exposure Prevention Amendment Act of 2016” provides the framework to protect the children enrolled in licensed child development facilities, our public schools, and the charter schools from lead-contaminated water,” said Councilmember Cheh.
The bill comes after a communication failure between DC Public Schools (DCPS) and the Department of General Services (DGS) wherein parents were not notified of months-old test results of elevated lead levels in DCPS water sources and lapses in the District’s testing protocol for lead in public schools. These failings were revealed in a joint hearing held on June 12th by the Committee on Education and the T&E Committee on testing procedures. In addition to setting higher prevention standards, the bill will create the Healthy Child Development Facilities Fund to provide financial assistance to child development facilities and daycare centers which may face a significant financial burden by the installation and maintenance of lead filters.
“Lead in our children’s drinking water is an urgent concern, especially for our younger children. Pediatricians have said that there is no safe lead exposure for younger children. The best way to address this issue as quickly as possible is to install and properly maintain lead-certified filters at drinking water sources and have a process in place for immediate remedial action if the filtered water test results are above 1 part per billion. To ensure immediate communication with parents and community members, test results must be posted within five business days. With these new regulations, we are not only setting a national standard but are remedying previous shortcomings in protecting District children,” said Councilmember Cheh.