Democrats Release Government Accountability Office Report on Lead in School Drinking Water
Today, six House and Senate Democrats released a disturbing new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found only 43 percent of school districts nationwide tested for lead in their schools’ drinking water in 2016 and 2017, and of those that tested, 37 percent found elevated lead levels. GAO found that 41 percent of school districts did not test for lead, while 16 percent did not know.
The GAO conducted this report after receiving several separate requests on the issue from Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), Senate HELP Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). Based on those requests, the GAO reviewed state and school district practices for lead testing and remediation efforts to protect children from exposure to lead in school drinking water.
“The findings in this report are disturbing and unacceptable,” the Democrats said in joint statement. “No child should be put at risk for toxic lead exposure simply by drinking water at school.”
“This report should serve as a wake-up call to the Trump Administration that it must take immediate action to address lead in drinking water,” the six Democrats continued. “The Administration should finalize a stronger Lead and Copper Rule and issue protective guidance requiring lead testing for all public schools. As Members of Congress, we are committed to ensuring that states and localities have the funding and resources necessary to remediate lead in their schools and throughout their drinking water systems if it is discovered.”
As a result of its findings, GAO is making seven recommendations to address lead in school drinking water, including that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) update its guidance on how schools should determine lead levels requiring action. GAO also recommended EPA and the Department of Education collaborate to disseminate guidance and encouraging testing for lead in schools. EPA and the Department of Education have agreed with GAO’s recommendations.
GAO’s report is available HERE.