Pallone seeks replacement of school water fountains to cut risk of lead exposure

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone

A New Jersey congressman is proposing legislation to help schools eliminate a source of lead in drinking water.

Older drinking fountains in schools have fixtures that contain lead and can contaminate the water, said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, a Democrat representing parts of Central Jersey. He wants Congress to authorize $5 million a year for five years to replace those fountains.

“There are tens of thousands around the country. This bill probably would fix maybe from 5,000 to 10,000 of them,” he said Friday. “A lot of times the schools are spending the money themselves, but that’s not always easy … a lot of times they just shut them down and don’t replace them.”

While closing those fountains helps protect kids from exposure to lead, Pallone said it’s not the best solution because that means students don’t have access to fresh water while at school. Using bottled water is expensive.

Other legislation he’s proposed would increase the level of federal funding for communities to replace their aging water systems.

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