Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law Monday requiring Illinois schools and daycares to test drinking water sources for lead.
The law requires school buildings built before Jan. 1, 1987 to complete water testing before the end of 2017 and schools built between Jan. 2, 1987 and Jan. 1, 2000 must complete testing be the end of 2018.
Daycares built on or before Jan. 1, 2000 and serve children under the age of 6 will also be required to conduct lead testing.
Parents and guardians of students must be notified of any elevated lead results.
“Today is about our future, about making sure our students are not exposed to lead poisoning,” said Governor Rauner. “This shows what is possible when we work together. It is a step in protecting our children from the devastating effects of lead exposure.”
When Rauner addressed the hundreds attending the Martin Luther King Breakfast Monday morning, he reminded the crowd that we are not born Republicans or Democrats.
The law was passed with bipartisan support and Rauner said it proves we have common interests.
Testing and remediation are not cheap and school districts are already cash-strapped, but Rauner said the cost of implementing these measures will be covered.
“There are funds, funds available, with cash in them that’s not being utilized, in our life safety funds and in our tort funds in the school system. Prior to this bill, it would have not been allowed, it would have been illegal to use those funds for this issue, but we changed that and this makes these funds available,” Rauner said.
Illinois children are at higher risk than most for exposure to lead. A quarter of the lead pipes in the country are located in Illinois.
The law goes into effect immediately.