Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois
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U.S. Representatives Rush & Pallone Propose New Legislation for $5 Million Grant Program to Address Lead Poisoning in Schools

Jul 14, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representatives Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) introduced new legislation that would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to provide assistance to schools to replace older drinking water fountains that may contain lead.

Locally, a reported 26 Chicago Public Schools were found to have dangerous levels of lead in them. Because it was legal to solder pipes with lead before 1986, many of the water fixtures built before then would need to be replaced in order for the city to be sure that its water is lead-free. Since a project of this scale has never been tried before, it’s difficult to know just how much funding it would take to complete an initiative of this size.

Rush’s bill would establish a grant program to provide assistance to local educational agencies for the replacement of drinking water fountains manufactured prior to 1988.

“When lead builds up in the body even in small amounts it can cause serious health problems,” said Rush. “What we are doing to our children in exposing them to lead poisoning is one-hundred percent avoidable. My proposed bill will provide schools with the funding to directly address this issue and protect our children and their educational futures.”

The proposed bill would allocate $5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021 to help replace older fountains and also to supplement the costs of monitoring and reporting lead levels in the drinking water of schools of a local educational agency receiving such funds, as determined appropriate by the Administrator.

“Lead in school drinking water is an immediate and serious threat for children in cities across New Jersey and this nation,” said Pallone. “This important bill could quickly eliminate a main source of lead in schools, protecting countless schoolchildren.” Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems. The brain is the organ most sensitive to lead exposure.