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NC Lead Testing Bill Tabled Until Next Year

North Carolina lawmakers adjourned for the year without taking action on a bill that would require and fund testing of water for lead in schools and daycare centers in the state. (Morguefile.com)
North Carolina lawmakers adjourned for the year without taking action on a bill that would require and fund testing of water for lead in schools and daycare centers in the state. (Morguefile.com)
July 19, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. - Child advocates say it's a step backwards in protecting North Carolina's children against exposure to lead in drinking water. The State Assembly adjourned without taking action on a House Bill 1074 that would have required and funded lead testing in the drinking water of every school and child care center in the state.

Tom Vitaglione, senior fellow with NC Child said in light of recent events in states such as Michigan, lawmakers missed out on an opportunity to make sure such a tragedy doesn't happen here.

"There may be some older pipes that include lead that would leach out and get into the drinking water and therefore get into people's systems and this was essentially the kind of problem that happened in Flint," he said.

Until recently lead levels in blood tests of the state's children were on a downturn, but a recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that lead level sin North Carolina's children have increased by 67 percent between 2009 and 2015. The CDC funded a program that tested the blood of at-risk children, but that program lost much of its funding in 2011.

Vitaglione said while the lead in drinking water is an ongoing concern, a major contributor to lead exposure in North Carolina is found on the walls of its homes and businesses.

"Sometimes it's on the outside of the house," he added. "Sometimes on the inside of the house and the children who are at most risk are the infants and toddlers who are crawling around, getting it on their hands and putting their hands in their mouth."

As of 1977, lead cannot be used in any residential paint, but it still exists in some older structures or is found as new paint chips away.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC