Senator Joan B. Lovely
State Senator
2nd Essex District


July 12, 2018

Senate passes legislation to establish a commission to study lead in school water

BOSTON—This afternoon the Senate passed legislation to study the prevalence of lead in school drinking water. S. 2595, Resolve creating a commission on remediating lead in drinking water of schools and early childhood centers, would mandate the creation of a commission tasked with solving the emerging public health crisis of children exposed to lead in their schools.

In Massachusetts, almost half of the school water tests conducted found some level of lead in the water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Environmental Protection, there is no safe level of lead exposure. Many of the schools’ water service lines are still made of lead, which has been found to leach lead into school water through the pipes, plumbing and water fountains. While lead removal in paint and gasoline has been successful, lead in our water supply is still a great threat to public health.

According to the World Health Organization, lead “is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children.” It is distributed in the body to the brain, liver, kidney and bones, stored in teeth and bones where it accumulates.

“It is essential that schools throughout the Commonwealth provide a safe environment for children to learn and grow without the threat of lead poisoning,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). “I am thankful for Representative Erlich’s partnership on this important issue to establish a commission to move towards eliminating exposure to lead for students in Massachusetts.”

The commissioners of the Departments of Public Health and Elementary and Secondary Education will serve as co-chairs of the commission. The commission will be rounded out by legislative designees and representatives from the Mass. Water Resource Authority (MWRA), the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust, the Mass Municipal Association, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, the Massachusetts Parent Teacher Association, the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Toxics Action Center, MassPIRG, Clean Water Action, and a representative of a relevant plumbing trade union.

The commission will be tasked with filing a report to the legislature on evidence-based methods for testing for and remediating the harmful effects of lead in school drinking water, the cost of implementing those solutions, and the feasibility of each solution.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.