The state House bill that mandates Indiana schools test drinking water for lead is a good idea but falls short in a few areas.
The bill doesn’t mandate disclosure, which is important when it comes to transparency about the safety of children.
The bill also doesn’t cover child care facilities such as day care centers. If there is reasonable concern to merit testing of drinking water for school-aged children, it should certainly be required for places where even younger children are being supervised.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Messmer pointed out another flaw that the bill would require one-time because the state would have to explore funding for regular testing.
Prior to the bill’s expansion to include all Indiana schools, the bill focused on schools in Lake County due to a high concentration of lead due to industries in that area.
The bill would be much improved to be proactive rather than reactive by requiring regular testing. To do this, the state should seek funding streams before issuing mandates.
The bill in its current form requires schools to take action if lead levels are 15 parts per billion or higher. Justin Ohlemiller, the executive director of the Indiana chapter of Stand for Children, argued that no level of lead consumption is acceptable for children, while conceding that the House committee must agree upon a reasonable and reachable number.
Here we need the expert opinions of toxicologists to determine a number that is acceptable.
While the intention of the bill is admirable, the mandate must be funded, be sustainable and set reasonable standards.