State Could Require Lead Testing At All Illinois Schools, Daycares

CHICAGO (CBS) — Environmental activists and others said they have reached a compromise on a statewide requirement to test for lead in drinking water at schools and daycare centers. That could move proposed legislation out of an Illinois House committee as early as Monday.

Jennifer Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, said it could cost between $500 and $5,000 per school to test for lead contamination in drinking water; but she said the tests are vital.

“In the range of things, that’s not huge, especially when you look at the public health impacts; the need for special education, all of the things that can come from lead exposure to children,” she said.

However, some school districts and municipalities remain opposed to the proposal.

The measure has been stalled in a House committee, but Walling said, after much negotiation and several holiday season meetings, a compromise has been reached on how schools can pay for the mandate.

“Many schools have life-safety and health funds that were originally used for things like asbestos and handicapped accessibility, and many schools have some available, but we worked with the schools to clarify that they could use those funds for this testing if they needed to,” she said.

The governor’s office sounded supportive of the plan, and full legislative passage could be at hand this week.

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