Governor Phil Scott Signs Lead Testing & Remediation Bill Into Law
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today signed S.40, An act relating to testing and remediation of lead in the drinking water of schools and childcare facilities. This legislation governs statewide testing of school and childcare facilities’ drinking water for lead – a project already underway by State agencies.
“The harmful impact of lead, particularly in children, is clear. That’s why this legislation and our statewide efforts are so critical,” said Governor Scott. “We have a comprehensive, multi-agency effort underway to reduce lead exposure among Vermont’s children. I appreciate the Legislature’s work on this bill and thank the state’s schools and childcare providers for their partnership.”
The new law officially puts into place a full-scale testing project that builds on a 2017 pilot program among schools to test their drinking water for lead at each tap used for drinking or cooking, and to take actions as needed to reduce lead levels.
“This law will help identify where fixes are needed and provide both financial and technical assistance. We learned from the pilot that most fixes can be done relatively quickly and at a reasonable cost,” Governor Scott added.
The law requires all schools and licensed or registered childcare facilities to test their drinking and cooking water for lead, and to remediate when results are found to be at or above the action level of 4 parts per billion (ppb). The State of Vermont will cover testing costs and reimburse for the actual costs to replace fixtures, up to a certain amount.
Many Vermont schools and childcare facilities are in older buildings, which means they are more likely to have lead in their plumbing. While a major source of lead poisoning in Vermont children is pre-1978 paint, lead in plumbing and fixtures can add to a child’s overall lead exposure. Lead exposure is a special risk for children because they absorb lead into their systems more easily than adults do. Lead can slow down growth, impair development and learning, and can cause behavior problems.
“Reducing the risk of lead poisoning in children is a top public health priority. Unfortunately, this is not a problem unique to Vermont. The good news is we can do something about it,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “The only way to know if lead is in the water is to test for it, and at the request of Governor Scott, we have already started testing schools.”
The project will involve testing the drinking water taps at the state’s nearly 425 public and independent schools and approximately 1,200 childcare facilities (of which over 300 operate in school buildings). The project is being coordinated by the Health Department in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Agency of Education and the Child Development Division of the Department for Children and Families. Test results will be available as they are completed over the course of the 18 month project at https://anrweb.vt.gov/DEC/leadinschools/.
For more information about the lead testing in drinking water project, visit healthvermont.gov/environment/school/lead-drinking-water-schools
To read the legislation as passed: https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2020/S.40
Anyone with questions about the project is encouraged to call 2-1-1.