Legislation requiring lead testing in schools and daycares was approved by the Illinois House of Representatives according to an announcement on Monday.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan initiated the legislation after the Illinois Environmental Council found alarming levels of lead in many Chicago and suburban school districts, according a statement from the attorney general’s office.
“Lead exposure can lead to serious and lifelong developmental problems for young children and infants,” Madigan said. “Many school districts in Illinois are already testing for lead in drinking water and have discovered alarmingly high rates of lead contamination. Testing drinking water in all Illinois schools and daycares is an inexpensive way to immediately identify and stop lead exposure in young children that would otherwise cost families, schools and government much more.”
There is no safe level of lead in drinking water and children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure which can cause severe, life-long health, emotional and behavioral problems, the Center for Disease Control said.
Within the last year, some Illinois schools have voluntarily tested drinking water for lead but state law does not require it, according to the attorney general.
The lead tests cost about $15 per drinking water sample and would give schools the information needed to quickly protect children from lead exposure, Madigan said.
The bill would require that all certain daycare centers and schools built before 2000 with pre-kindergartden through fifth grade classes test all water sources used for drinking or food preparation, according to Madigan. It also requires that inventory must be taken of all lead service lines in the state and public notification must be given of water main construction projects.
“Parents have the right to know whether the water in their children’s schools is contaminated by lead, and this legislation is a step toward giving parents that information so they can ensure their children are protected,” Sen. Heather Steans said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to send this legislation to the governor’s desk.”