LANSING — On Thursday, April 20, the Michigan Senate voted to pass Senate Bills 88 and 89, the Filter First legislation, which would protect children from lead in drinking water at schools and child care centers. The bills are sponsored by Sens. John Cherry (D-Flint) and Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit).
The bills will require all Michigan child care centers and schools to implement a Drinking Water Management Plan, install filtered bottle-filling stations or filtered faucets on outlets designated for drinking water and test the filtered water to ensure that the filters are installed and operating properly. The legislation has widespread support from health and environmental experts and this is a much more cost-effective method than repeatedly testing every outlet or replacing entire plumbing systems.
“By getting water filters in schools and child care centers, we can prevent our children from experiencing the detrimental effects of lead poisoning,” Cherry said. “This legislation fights an issue we are actively facing across Michigan by creating an effective solution to lead poisoning in schools and day cares.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, even low levels of lead in the blood can negatively affect children’s intellectual development and academic achievement. The most active and protective solution to kids getting exposed to lead through school and child care drinking water is to place filters at the point of use. Given the amount of time children spend at schools and child care centers, these bills will help keep children safe by installing filtered faucets and water bottle filling stations and installing on-tap filters in sinks where water is used for human consumption, like school kitchens.
On weekends and over breaks, water stagnates in school plumbing systems, which reduces corrosion control measures meant to reduce lead leaching into the water. Training for child care staff will be provided, and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy will provide guidance to schools and child care centers. Funding to support this initiative was approved last year.
“No parent should have to worry about their child being exposed to lead poisoning at school or day care, just as no student should have to worry about the quality of water coming out of their drinking fountain,” Santana said. “As infrastructure ages and becomes unreliable, so does water quality. These bills prevent a risky guessing game by implementing filters to monitor water quality throughout schools and day care centers.”
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