The Bulletin Board

New law tightens requirements for lead testing in New Hampshire schools

By: - July 15, 2022 3:57 pm
School lockers in a hallway

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Gov. Chris Sununu signed a law last week seeking to create a safer place for students by reducing their exposure to lead, a toxic heavy metal.

Under the bill, House Bill 1421, daycares and K-12 public and private schools will now have to monitor the amount of lead in their drinking water and notify parents if it is above the Environmental Protection Act’s percentage of safe lead in schools.

The bill, signed by the governor July 8, creates two options for schools to monitor the amount of lead in their water: they can either test the water regularly or institute water bottle refilling filtration systems throughout schools for students to get water.

The legislature passed a similar bill in 2018 to reduce the amount of lead in schools’ paint and building materials, but that bill didn’t require schools to notify parents of increased lead contamination. This year’s law also requires the addition of water bottle filtering systems for schools, which would have to be tested for lead levels within 180 days of installation.

Parents must be alerted by school officials if the tested amount exceeded five parts per billion by school officials within five business days. Schools adhering to these guidelines will be overseen by an employee from the NH Department of Environmental Services.

Exposure to lead, a heavy metal, is toxic to humans, and can cause a range of health impacts varying from heart disease to lower IQs. With a high enough level of exposure, it can replace calcium in the brain, changing how signals pass through the brain and resulting in neuron death, according to a blog post by Harvard University.

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Talia Heisey
Talia Heisey

Talia interned with the New Hampshire Bulletin during the summer of 2022. Previously, they worked as a general assignment reporting intern for VTDigger, writing stories on the environment, higher education, and public policy. A Massachusetts native, Talia started their career at UMass Amherst's student outlets, the Amherst Wire and the Massachusetts Daily Collegian; they are currently editor in chief of the former. They have also interned for the Framingham Source, DigBoston, and the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, and freelanced for Vice I-D.