Gym, Reynolds Brown, and Bass unveil three bills to secure water safety and lead testing for children and working class families
PHILADELPHIA—Today, three councilwomen unveiled a package of bills which was supported by all six women on Council and designed to protect Philadelphia’s children from the toxic and irreparable impact of lead exposure.
A pair of bills focused on children and school students would require that public schools meet strict water safety standards and that child care centers undergo lead testing in order to be licensed by the city. The third bill, designed to protect families from lead exposure, would update the existing Lead Paint Disclosure law to include the presence of lead water service lines.
The School District water testing bill, introduced by Councilwoman Helen Gym (At Large, Chair of Children and Youth), would require each District school to perform annual lead testing of water and require a City certification that it meets water quality standards.
“Without a doubt, our nation has made major advances to address the impact of lead on communities. Situations like those in Flint and Newark remind us that we must be vigilant because there is still work to be done,” said Councilwoman Gym. “This bill will help us meet the basic human rights of our students, teachers, and staff to safe drinking water.”
The bill requiring lead safety in child care centers, introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown (At Large, Chair of Environment), would mandate for the first time that family and group child care centers be certified “lead safe” before being granted a license from the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
“For years, I have worked to keep our city’s youngest children safe by passing legislation to mitigate this environmental risk to our communities,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown. “No parent should ever have to worry that her child might be exposed to lead in child care. This bill is a win-win; it will ensure that no center can open without first ensuring its facility is safe for children.”
Under the bill introduced by Councilwoman Cindy Bass (8th District, Chair of Public Health), the current Lead Paint Disclosure law, which requires disclosure of lead risks to renters and purchasers of property older than 1978, would be expanded to include the required disclosure of lead water service lines.
“Our city has made progress on the fight against lead poisoning by giving renters and purchasers the right to lead testing and requiring that landlords and property sellers disclose lead risks. Knowledge is power, and this bill will give Philadelphians the information they need on potential lead exposure in water service lines for the first time,” said Councilwoman Bass.
“We must ensure that our schools and communities are safe places for our children to grow and learn—these bills will help make that a reality,” said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell (3rd District, Chair of Education).
The three bills will be formally introduced Thursday in City Council.
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Helen Gym was sworn in for her first term as a Philadelphia Councilmember-At -Large in January 2016. Her primary concerns include addressing widespread poverty in Philadelphia, particularly through an emphasis on building a quality public education system that anchors schools within communities. For more information, visit phlcouncil.com/HelenGym.