Effort to Remove Lead from School Drinking Fountains

[AUDIO] Washington state lawmakers are taking a hard look at water quality in public schools, and they’re not happy with what they’re seeing. Dan Frizzell from the House Democratic Caucus has more.

While elected leaders and educators wrestle with questions about whether and when and how far to open schools in the midst of a pandemic, members of the state House have their eyes on another school problem: the water. Studies of drinking water in schools throughout Washington have found lead concentrations as high as 30 times the amount considered toxic. Lead at those levels can cause behavior and learning problems and hearing impairment, and worse. Representative Gerry Pollet is leading the charge in Olympia to get the lead out.

POLLET: “When my child or your child or any child goes to school, and they go to the drinking water fountain, they ought to know that when they take that drink of water every day, their IQ is not being lowered. And yet we know that at current lead levels, we are lowering our children’s IQ when they drink the water at some of the schools.”

The Democratic lawmaker, who lives in Seattle and teaches at the UW School of Public Health, is lead sponsor of legislation to reduce lead levels to safe concentrations in Washington schools. After a public hearing this week the bill’s fate rests with the House Education Committee, which has scheduled a vote for February 4. Reporting from Olympia, Dan Frizzell.