Illinois Takes the Lead on Lead

School Testing Bill Protects the Most Vulnerable from Contaminated Water

The Illinois General Assembly passed legislation that will require public schools built before 2000 with pre-kindergarten through fifth grade classes to test their drinking water for lead contamination. The bill, passed today, will also require day care centers to test water at their facilities.

Following is a statement by Meleah Geertsma at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“As a mother and health scientist, I appreciate the importance of this legislation to calm a growing fear felt by parents across the state. The disaster in Flint has opened America’s eyes to the widespread danger of children’s exposure to neurotoxic lead in drinking water. But despite the high risks, until today, there were no requirements for Illinois schools to test for this neurotoxin that is known to take such an incredible toll on children. 

"This bill won’t fix the problem, but it stands as a crucial first step that helps ensure parents know if there is a problem with the water their kids drink at school. States around the nation should follow Illinois’ lead on lead. And we need to take the next step in this state to find resources to help replace problematic pipes and plumbing that contribute to this problem.”

Geertsma has been working on the bill for more than a year with legislative leaders, state and agency officials, as well as a strong coalition of health and environmental groups.

NRDC Midwest Director Henry Henderson blogged on the bill’s national significance at


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​


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