State Rep. Carolyn B. Jackson seeks greater protections for children from lead

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INDIANAPOLIS – Schools and child care facilities across Indiana would be required to test drinking water for potential lead contamination under legislation that has been filed by State Rep. Carolyn B. Jackson (D-Hammond).

House Bill 1433, now eligible for consideration in the 2019 session of the Indiana General Assembly, would require testing for lead or copper in the drinking water of every school and public or private child care center in the state before January 2022. This testing requirement would be satisfied, however, if the facility already has tested for compliance with federal water standards since 2016.

“If it is found that there is a presence of lead that is equal to or greater than the federal action level of 15 parts per billion, then the operators of that facility must take steps to correct the matter and reduce that number to safer levels,” Jackson said.

“In 2017, the Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) conducted a one-time voluntary program to test water in public schools for lead,” she continued. “The results of that program are expected to be announced sometime this month.

“What I am trying to do is make the testing program required, rather than voluntary,” Jackson said. “I also believe that we need to expand the scope of this program to include all child care facilities in the state. In recent times, there has been increased awareness of the problems being caused by the infrastructure in these schools failing due to disrepair and simple old age. There have been problems in both Hammond and East Chicago, and I am sure that is only the tip of the iceberg.

“I do not think we should be compromising on the health and safety of our children,” she concluded. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a school or a care facility. We must do everything we can to make them safe.”

The bill has been assigned to the House Environmental Affairs Committee.

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