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Maryland Improves Standards to Protect Children From Exposure to Lead in School Drinking Water Outlets

The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) is delighted to see a major advancement in our shared mission to protect Maryland children from being poisoned by lead. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Delegate Jared Solomon, Senator Cory McCray, child health advocates and government agencies, Maryland has again taken a national leadership role in lead poisoning prevention. Governor Larry Hogan signed into law the Safe School Drinking Water Act (HB636/SB546) this past week which lowers the action level for lead in water in school drinking water outlets to 5 ppb. Legislative leaders and GHHI worked hard to consistently make the case for why this important legislation was needed to modernize Maryland’s lead standards for schools. The new law goes into effect on June 1, 2021 and requires that corrective action be undertaken sooner to remediate lead hazards and replace drinking water fixtures in schools where levels above 5 ppb are identified through the regular testing of outlets in schools.

The EPA previously determined that the federal action level of 20 ppb for lead in school drinking water outlets was not a health-based standard and should be replaced but failed to establish new safer standards. Only a handful of states have lowered their lead action level standards to date for schools despite the risk that children exposed to lead, even at very low levels, can experience permanent neurologic damage, reduced IQ, learning disabilities, ADHD and aggressive behavior. As COVID infection numbers decrease and children begin returning to the classroom for in-person learning, it is essential that they do so in an environment that supports their health, development, and ability to thrive by having safe drinking water.

GHHI thanks Senator McCray, Delegate Solomon and all the legislators who supported the passage of the Safe School Drinking Water Act in 2021 and demonstrated the commitment of Maryland to step forward and improve our standards to better protect children’s health. To view a copy of the Safe School Drinking Water Act, go to: safe school drinking water act

If you would like more information about testing regulations for schools or about test results in your child’s school in Maryland, information can be found on this page of the Maryland Department of Environment website: Testing for Lead in Drinking Water in Public and Nonpublic Schools

If you are concerned about lead in water in your home, have your water tested and refer to this guidance from the EPA on how to mitigate risk to you and your family. Contact GHHI by visiting our website or calling 410-534-6447 to learn more about how to protect your child from lead and other health hazards in your home.

Ruth Ann Norton

President and CEO

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