New lead-testing mandate lies ahead for schools

Minnesota public schools are under orders to adopt plans for lead-testing in their buildings and report those results to parents.

The directive is part of an education budget bill signed last week. It gives school districts and charter schools until July of 2018 to come up with testing plans or use one developed by the state. Each building used for classes must be tested for lead contamination at least once every five years.

Rep. Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, sponsored the lead-check measure and said he hopes it will shed light on a critical health concern.

“Particularly parents who are going to be paying attention to it will pressure their school boards and others to make the changes that need to be made to make sure either that drinking fountain that has an elevated level is not used or that the problem in the pipes — or whatever that is that led to it — is taken care of,” Thissen said.

Minnesota hadn’t required lead testing unless a school was providing its own water supply.

Exposure to high lead levels can cause developmental problems and other health problems.

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