AUGUSTA – Reacting to pervasive lead contamination in schools’ drinking water, Environment Maine Research & Policy Center gave Maine an F grade today for addressing the problem, according to a new national report. In the second edition of Environment Maine Research & Policy Center’s Get The Lead Out study, the state showed poor progress as Maine received an “F” grade in 2017, as well. We are calling for swift action to ensure lead-free water in Maine’s schools.
“Schools should be safe places for our kids to learn and play, but Maine is still failing to protect our kids from lead in drinking water,” said Carissa Maurin, State Director with Environment Maine Research & Policy Center. “We need policies that actually get the lead out of faucets and fountains in our schools and pre-schools.”
As more Maine schools test their water, they are finding lead. For example, of the limited testing done, 26 schools and child cares found “high levels of lead” in the water.
Lead is a potent neurotoxin, affecting the way our kids learn, grow, and behave.There is no safe level of lead for children.Most schools and pre-schools still have fountains or faucets that contain lead, and wherever there is lead, there is a risk of water contamination.
Nevertheless, current state law does far too little to prevent children’s drinking water from becoming laced with lead at school. Currently, only Maine schools that get their drinking water from wells are required to test for lead. In Environment Maine Research & Policy Center’s comparison of 31 states, these shortcomings gave Maine a GRADE OF “F”.
LD 153, ‘An Act To Strengthen Testing for Lead in School Drinking Water’, introduced by State Senator Rebecca Millett would change that by requiring all schools to test water used for drinking or culinary purposes for lead using water testing kits or by submitting samples of water to an approved laboratory for lead testing.
“Children who are exposed to lead can suffer terrible, long-lasting health problems, including impaired development. That’s why it’s so important for schools to thoroughly test drinking water for any contamination. Old plumbing and pipes can leach lead into water, meaning the water that comes out of faucets and drinking fountains is not safe for our children to drink,” said Sen. Millett. “We need to make sure all students have a safe, healthy environment where they can learn and grow.”
The measure has wide support, including Environment Maine, and seven co-sponsors. Parents in Maine are especially eager to see the bill move and parents in other states are demanding action too. Environment Maine’s counterparts are working with doctors and parents and community leaders in seven other states to advance policies that Get the Lead Out of schools and daycares.
“We were disappointed to find that Maine’s efforts is an “F” at best for protecting children from lead at school,” said Carissa Maurin “Our kids deserve better.”
Get the Lead Out Report Card: Maine
Environment Maine Research & Policy Center works to protect clean water, clean air, and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives