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Councilmember Hucker introduces bill to lower lead levels in public school drinking water

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, February 5, 2019

From the Office of Councilmember Tom Hucker

County’s current action threshold exceeds EPA’s by 33 percent

ROCKVILLE, Md., Feb. 5, 2019— County Councilmember Tom Hucker introduced legislation today to reduce levels of toxic lead in Montgomery County Public Schools’ drinking water.

Currently, Montgomery County schools follow the state standard of 20 parts per billion. Bill 2-19, Health – Lead in Drinking Water – Schools, would lower that action threshold to 5 ppb.

“Scientists agree: There is no safe level of lead, a neurotoxin that permanently damages our children’s developing brains and bodies,” Hucker said. “Now that we have recent test results from the Montgomery County Public Schools, we have to take action to address the lead in drinking water in our schools. We owe it to our children to do all we can to protect their health.”

Lead accumulates in children’s teeth and bones. It can cause behavioral and learning problems, lower IQ, hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anemia. In fact, it’s been estimated that keeping lead out of children’s bodies and brains would save more than 20 million total IQ points among U.S. children, plus billions of dollars in annual costs associated with lead exposure.

In 2017, the Maryland General Assembly passed HB 270, Testing for Lead in Drinking Water – Public and Nonpublic Schools, which required all schools to test their drinking water for lead by July 1, 2018. MCPS recently met that requirement and found 238 fixtures that exceeded the 20 ppb standard and many more that showed levels of lead between five ppb and 20 ppb. The state mandates that school drinking outlets with lead levels of 20 ppb or more must be closed or fixed. In the last year or so, Montgomery County Public Schools has remediated almost all of the outlets that exceed that limit.

“But that’s not good enough,” Hucker said, pointing out that the EPA — along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics — all agree there is no safe level of lead exposure.

Two neighboring jurisdictions, Prince George’s County and Washington, D.C., both have action levels lower than even the EPA standard of 15 ppb.

“Keeping our kids healthy must be one of our schools’ top priorities, especially when it involves their brains and ability to learn,” Hucker said. “Anything less is simply unacceptable.”

More information on Bill 2-19 is here. Watch Hucker’s comments as he introduces Bill 2-19 at the Council here.

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Release ID: 19-044
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926 , Juan Jovel 240-777-7931