Vermont Legislature Passes Nation’s Strongest Lead in Drinking Water Law

Law mandates testing and remediation in schools and child care centers

Photo: Littlekidmoment via Shutterstock

May 22, 2019 (MONTPELIER, VT) – Conservation Law Foundation, Toxics Action Center, Vermont Conservation Voters and Vermont Public Interest Research Group released the following statement today after Vermont’s Legislature passed the strongest law in the country regulating lead in school and childcare center drinking water.

“The only safe amount of lead for children is zero,” said Jen Duggan, Vice President and Director of CLF Vermont. “This law puts Vermont ahead of every other state in protecting our kids from being poisoned. Lead has no place in our drinking water, and I’m so grateful for the work our legislative champions have done to get the lead out of schools and childcare centers.”

The legislation sets the action level for lead remediation at 4 parts per billion at all public and private schools and childcare centers and sets a December 31, 2020 deadline for Vermont to complete initial testing statewide. The law requires schools to sample all faucets used for cooking and drinking on a regular basis using a stringent testing protocol.  It also includes $3 million to cover the costs of testing and to help schools and child care centers clean up lead.

“There’s no reason that past mistakes should harm today’s children for the rest of their lives. Lead has no place in schools or any place where children are,” said Shaina Kasper, Vermont and New Hampshire State Director at Toxics Action Center. “With this law, Vermont is leading the country in protecting students from lead poisoning in school.”

“It’s amazing that we’re still fighting to get lead out of school drinking water in 2019,” added Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “But as a public health advocate, I’m thrilled to finally see this action. As a parent, I’m also incredibly relieved.”

Lauren Hierl, Executive Director of Vermont Conservation Voters, added “We thank the Vermont Legislature for enacting a nation-leading bill to protect our children from lead poisoning while at school or a child care facility. Preventing lead exposure is a huge public health win for our children and our state.”

CLF has been pushing for stronger lead testing requirements throughout New England in recent months. In September, CLF and partners began urging school organizations and state officials to protect children from lead in school drinking water. You can read more about CLFs’ efforts to prevent childhood lead poisoning here.

Experts are available for further comment