Our Report Calls on NY to Get More Lead Out of School Drinking Water

We are excited to release our new report “5 is the New 15 about how strengthening the 2016 Safe School Drinking Water Act could protect more students and staff from lead exposure in school drinking water. At our press conference to release the report, we urged the State to reduce the action level for lead in public school drinking water from 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 5 ppb which would make New York’s the biggest state with the most protective health standard in the nation. It would also bring us closer to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of less than 1 ppb. 

We were joined by New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, and representatives from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Healthy Schools Network, Natural Resources Defense Council, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice. Senator Rivera and Assemblymember Gottfried recently submitted legislation to strengthen the law (S. 2122 / A. 160).  

In addition to lowering the lead action level, the report recommends increasing testing frequency for lead in public school drinking water, guaranteeing no-cost tap water, removing the possibility of exemption from testing, ensuring laboratory reports are disclosed publicly, and enforcing training for sample collectors. 

An analysis of lab reports from 90% of all NYS public school districts that were tested in  2016  found that an additional 63,428 drinking water outlets, or 17.2%, currently in use would need remediation under a more protective standard of 5 ppb compared to the current action level of 15 ppb.

Children spend much of their time in school and the levels of lead in school drinking fixtures present an alarming problem, as many schools have older plumbing fixtures that contain large amounts of lead. Lead poisoning can affect almost every organ and system in the human body, causing irreversible damage, and babies and young children are particularly at risk. 

All young children deserve a safe learning environment. It’s time to reevaluate our current law to protect kids and improve schools for the future. We are committed to working with Governor Cuomo, Senator Rivera, Assemblymember Gottfried, our partners and all our elected officials to make significant improvements to our school drinking water.

< Back to Our Issues

Related Articles

We are committed to educating, engaging, and empowering New Yorkers to be effective advocates for the environment. One of our top priorities is reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, New York’s largest source of emissions. Given that there are nearly 11.5 million vehicles registered in NYS, getting individual New Yorkers to make the…

In partnership with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, we are hosting a series of forums on implementing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). This landmark law compels the state to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 and with a goal of net zero emissions in…

About the Delaware River The Delaware River and its watershed are home to some of the most important ecological features on the East Coast. The 330-mile river spans five states, is home to more than 45 fish species and supports bird and mammal species, including the bobcat, coyote, and our national bird, the bald eagle….

NYLCVEF has released its Clean Bus Guide: a toolkit of resources for community members and groups to launch their own campaign for electric school buses.

Join the growing movement for electric school buses today! Sign up for our mailing list here! Clean Bus Guide! We are excited to release our Clean Bus Guide, a toolkit we put together to help communities around the state promote the transition to electric school buses. Organize your own electric school bus campaign using our…

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) launched its New York City Climate Action Tracker. This digital tool will follow the city’s progress on its climate goals from Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC plan.

We teamed up with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, Cooper Square Committee, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice to draft a report on exposure to lead poisoning. The report, titled Collecting Dust, shows that there are gaps in the enforcement of laws that protect against lead dust exposure.

We released Breaking Down the Barriers to Renewable Energy Siting: Recommendations Report identifying recommendations to reform Article 10 and site large-scale renewable energy projects in New York State.

NYLCVEF released a white paper on the barriers to siting renewable energy in New York and possible approaches to overcoming these obstacles. New York State has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change and increasing renewable energy is a central component of this plan. The report describes these barriers in detail and proposes five preliminary policy recommendations for addressing siting challenges.

Get Involved