Gianaris Bill Mandates More Frequent Lead Testing at Schools and Parks

By David Brand

State Sen. Michael Gianaris introduced a bill on Sept. 4 that would mandate more frequent lead inspections of sinks and water fountains at schools and — for the first time — parks across the state.

The proposed legislation comes after NYCHA revealed that at least 1160 children have tested positive for lead poisoning after encountering lead-contaminated paint in their apartments, lead paint chips have flaked off stanchions along the no. 7 line and cities throughout the country — most notably Flint, Michigan — grapple with lead contamination in their water infrastructure.

“Too many children are exposed to lead and other harmful substances at public places where they should be safe,” Gianaris said. “This proposal would reduce the risk of exposure and ensure our schools and parks are not doing damage to our kids.”

The bill requires schools and parks to test their water outlets every three years to determine if there is any contamination. If elevated lead levels are found, the school or park would have 90 days to remedy the problem. The bill also mandates that schools and parks submit the test results to the state, which will post them in an public online database.

A law enacted in 2016 requires schools to test for lead in their water outlets every five years, but no such law exists for public parks, Gianarias said

In 2016, The New York Times reported that 83 percent of New York City school buildings had at least one fixture contaminated with lead.

Queens schools had the highest overall rate of contamination and the schools with the highest levels of lead.

At P.S. 95, the Eastwood School, in Jamaica, 34 water outlets had lead levels above the Environmental Protection Agency threshold of 15 parts per billion, the Times reported. One water fountain in the cafeteria had a level of 3,200 parts per billion.

At P.S./I.S. 208 in Bellerose, 36 water outlets had lead levels above the threshold, including a classroom water fountain with a lead level of 1,740 parts per billion, and a faucet in a girls’ bathroom with a lead level of 8,850 parts per billion, the Times reported.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris of Astoria. // Photo courtesy of Michael Gianaris.