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Statewide Lead Testing Mandate For Schools & Day Care Signed Into Law

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jan 16, 2017 5:46PM

Glass of water (photo via [cipher] on Flickr

All Illinois elementary schools and daycares will be required to test drinking water sources for lead per a bill that was signed into law on Monday by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Rauner praised the law as a bipartisan, necessary corrective measure. “Today is about our future, about making sure our students are not exposed to lead poisoning," Rauner said, via ABC7. "This shows what is possible when we work together. It is a step in protecting our children from the devastating effects of lead exposure."

School buildings built before 1987 that host pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade classes will be required to finish testing by year’s end. Newer building must complete testing by the end of next year.

“This is critical. We know that any source of lead in the bloodstream, particularly for kids, is highly problematic,” sponsor state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said on Tuesday, according to the Sun-Times. “And this way we will know now that we are protecting our kids from ingesting any lead.”

A pilot-program test of Chicago Public Schools sinks and fountains was launched last year in the wake of the Flint, Michigan contamination crisis. The test found more than 350 water sources with lead levels that exceeded federal thresholds.

Chicago is believed to have more lead service pipe lines than any other city in the country.

Lead contamination in nearby East Chicago, Indiana has prompted government officials to seek the relocation of some 1,000 residents.

The Chicago Park District disabled hundreds of park drinking fountains last October after tests showed higher levels of lead than allowed by EPA standards.

Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning. "Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems," according to the Mayo Clinic. "Children under the age of 6 are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development."