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DC steps up efforts to protect children from lead

WASHINGTON — A proposal before the D.C. Council would require the city’s Department of General Services to install, maintain and regularly test filters at every source of drinking water in every school, recreation center and child development facility in the city.

Under the new policy, the department would be required to take remedial action when tests reveal lead at or above one part per billion, said D.C. Council member Mary Cheh, who introduced the measure Tuesday. The department also would be required to post online all test results and information on remediation within five business days.

Last month, the District adopted a new policy, raising standards for the testing and remediation of lead in drinking water sources.

The legislation now before the council, which has garnered unanimous support, is first being referred to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment before it goes before the Committee on Education.

“I should also add that this piece of legislation will be followed in the fall by a Healthy Buildings Act that will address more comprehensively the health and wellness of our buildings overall,” Cheh said.

District leaders are working to counter what Cheh called “an unfortunate history” of issues related to lead in the water.

Fifteen years ago, a water system change caused lead to leach from city pipes. More recently, elevated lead levels in some schools weren’t immediately reported to the public.

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