Bill targets lead in schools’ drinking water

A new bill from Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerPoll: Majority thinks Trump won't be reelected in 2020 Julián Castro launches exploratory committee for possible 2020 White House bid Gillum to speak at gathering of top Dem donors: report MORE (D-N.J.) aims to increase testing for lead contamination in drinking water at schools.

The legislation, dubbed the Transparent Environment in School Testing for Lead Act, follows recent revelations that water in some of Newark, N.J.’s, public schools has had high lead levels for years.

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The federal government does not consider any lead concentration in water to be safe, and it links lead exposure, especially in children, to brain ailments and learning difficulties.

“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,” Booker said in a Monday statement announcing his bill.

“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,” he said.

It comes amid increased national attention to lead in drinking water, due mainly to lead contamination in Flint, Mich.’s, water supply that resulted in a water crisis in the city of 100,000.

Booker’s bill is similar to one introduced in the House by Rep. Donald Payne, another New Jersey Democrat.

Under the legislation, states that receive federal money under the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund — an Environmental Protection Agency program to better ensure safe drinking water — would be required to establish lead-testing programs for public and charter schools and would be allowed to use the federal money for the testing.

Schools would be required to notify parents and the federal government quickly after discovering elevated lead levels.

“Congress has neglected its duty to be a partner with state and local governments to crack down on lead in school drinking water,” Payne said in a statement.