KSTP Investigation Leads to New Measure Requiring Lead Tests

July 08, 2017 08:06 PM

Over the holiday weekend, a series of new legislation became law, including a measure requiring Minnesota schools to test water for lead.

A school district must begin testing school buildings serving pre-K through 12th grade during the next year.


The law requires schools to test their building’s water once every five years.

Part of the new law also requires school districts that have tested buildings for the presence of lead to make those test results available for public review. Districts must also notify parents about the results.

“I am proud that Minnesota is now one of few states leading the nation by putting the health of children in our schools first,” said Rep. Kelly Fenton of Woodbury, the bill’s author. “This important provision will ensure that our kids have safe water in their schools.”

Last fall, a KSTP investigation revealed nearly one of four Minnesota public schools surveyed were not following state-suggested guidelines when it came to testing water for lead.

Previously, the Minnesota Department of Health suggested, but did not require schools to test each tap or fixture providing drinking water or water for food preparation for lead.

"Unfortunately, the issue of lead in school water was pretty much ignored until the Flint disaster," said Dr. Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech University, who helped expose the Flint, Michigan water crisis.

Edwards said municipalities test water for lead. But that doesn't guarantee what comes through the many pipes and fixtures at a school meet EPA or state guidelines.

Minnesota is on a short list of states that have passed legislation. New York was the first state in the country to pass a law in September of 2016.

“This law was yet another example that brought republicans and democrats together during this historically productive session," Fenton said.


Eric Chaloux

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