TRENTON - There is urgency for legislative action as two more schools in New Jersey discovered elevated levels of lead in its drinking water.
Nearly half of Newark public schools reported elevated levels of lead in its drinking water. Two more in Hamilton, Morgan and Greenwood elementary schools, reported high levels of lead late last week.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney, among other Democratic state senators, met with education officials and advocates Monday morning to come up with a uniform lead protection plan for New Jersey schools.
During the meeting, they discussed a proposed legislation that would require New Jersey school districts to test for lead, keep parents informed, and have action plans to prevent and remedy any lead exposure. The proposal initially calls for up to $20 million from the clean energy fund to reimburse school districts for water filters.
"It's going to be a cost. No question about it, it's going to be very expensive,” Sen. Sweeney says. “But it's something we can't ignore. We are poisoning children and that's not acceptable."
In Newark, Rep. Donald Payne introduced the Test for Lead Act, a nationwide act similar to the plan discussed in New Jersey. The Test for Lead Act would use federal money to test state schools’ drinking water.
Dr. Nancy DeNicola of the Children's Health Center in Holmdel recommends concerned parents have their children tested for lead exposure.
"We want our kids to be safe and healthy,” she says. “To find out something that could have been prevented is now causing some behavior issues is really upsetting to parents."
The William B. Morgan Elementary School in Hamilton Township is providing students with bottled drinking water and sanitary hand wipes until problems there can be fixed.