Lead in Delaware Schools

General Assembly to hold virtual forum on lead in schools

Charlie MegginsonHeadlines, Health

Lead in Delaware Schools

Dozens of schools in Delaware have been found to have lead contaminants in their water supplies. (Getty Images)

The General Assembly will hold a public forum next week focused on the recent discovery of lead in the water supplies of nearly 50 Delaware school buildings.

The virtual forum will be held Monday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

“Like many parents throughout Delaware, my fellow legislators and I are very concerned about the presence of any lead in the water supplies of our public schools,” said Sen. Sarah McBride, D-Wilmington, who served as chair of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee in the 151st General Assembly. 

Unsafe levels of lead found in Delaware schools

The Delaware Department of Education and Division of Public Health began a sampling initiative in Delaware schools in Oct. 2020 to identify the levels of lead within drinking water systems. 

RELATED: William Penn among 22 schools with elevated levels of lead in water

The Environmental Protection Agency says any amount of lead over .015 milligrams per liter of water is dangerous. While the sampling report noted several schools close to that threshold, 47 buildings at 22 schools surpassed it.

Lead is toxic to humans. According to the Division of Public Health, young children are particularly vulnerable to lead because the physical and behavioral effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels in children than in adults. 

A dose of lead that would have little effect on an adult can have a significant effect on a child, DPH says on its website. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells. 

“We believe the public deserves answers about how we got here and what our state agencies are doing to make certain our public schools are safe and healthy learning environments for our children,” McBride said. “This is an issue that simply cannot wait for us to return to session in mid-January.”   

During the virtual forum, representatives from the Department of Education and Department of Health and Social Services will discuss the results of the statewide testing program, how the tests were conducted, plans for remediation and the state’s communication plans around this issue. 

Legislators and members of the public also will have an opportunity to offer public comment and have their questions addressed. 

Those interested in attending the virtual forum should click here to register.

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