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Lawmakers OK bill to set deadline to test Washington school faucets for lead

A University of Washington analysis found that out of 551 elementary schools, 82% have at least one faucet with lead levels higher than adopted standards.

SEATTLE — Washington state is one step closer to making sure kids have access to safe drinking water at school.

House Bill 1139, sponsored by state Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle), passed the Senate and is now headed to Gov. Jay Inslee's desk for a signature.

HB 1139 establishes a deadline for the Washington State Department of Health to test all faucets at schools used for drinking water and food preparation. The bill would require that parents be notified when high lead levels are found.

"When we send our children to school, there shouldn't be lead in the water they're drinking every day,” said Pollet. 

A University of Washington analysis, based on sampling by the Department of Health, found that out of 551 elementary schools, 82% have at least one faucet with lead levels higher than adopted standards.

"There is no such thing as a safe level of lead in your water,” said Pollet. 

Experts say even low lead levels can cause academic and behavioral setbacks for kids.

Pollet said the state will allocate grant funding for the necessary fixes. Advocates say there’s more work to be done.

Environment Washington’s Acting Director Pam Clough said, “House Bill 1139 takes important steps to reduce this problem, but the work is far from over.”

Schools will be required to begin testing their drinking water and coming up with an action plan shortly after the bill takes effect.