Published : Thursday, February 15, 2018 | 6:12 PM
Assemblymember Chris Holden has introduced a bill that would expand lead testing in drinking water within child care centers. The legislation, Assembly Bill 2370, also encourages greater lead testing of high-risk children, and informs parents about the risks and effects of lead exposure.
AB 2370 takes into consideration a recent Environmental Working Group analysis of California’s most recent lead testing data that shows almost three-fourths of California’s high-risk children – mostly 1- and 2-year-olds enrolled in the state-run low-income health insurance program – had not been tested for lead in their blood.
“Lead poisoning is a serious threat to children’s health,” Holden said in sponsoring the bill. “Increasing lead testing for California’s high-risk children is one of the single biggest steps we can take to prevent lead poisoning.”
Current law requires drinking water to be tested for lead at K-12 school sites. A 2009 California Environmental Protection Agency report states that very young children absorb about 40 to 50 percent of the ingested lead when drinking contaminated water, while adults absorb between 5-15 percent. Assembly Bill 2370 expands existing law to certified child care centers where over 700,000 children are enrolled.
“Given the well-documented damage that lead inflicts on young children, water served at child care centers should be tested for lead,” said Susan Little, California Government Affairs Senior Advocate for Environmental Working Group. “Very young children easily absorb the lead they ingest, so it makes sense that we do all we can to ensure the water and baby formula kids drink is as safe as possible. We applaud Assembly Member Holden’s effort to protect these kids.”
AB 2370 also encourages greater lead testing to families by requiring child care centers to request the child’s parent or guardian upon enrollment to provide documentation demonstrating the child has received a blood lead screening. If the parent is unable to provide documentation, the care child center would provide the parent with helpful information about the risks and effects of lead exposure, and available providers of blood lead screening tests.
Lack of documentation, however would not disqualify the child from enrollment, the bill states.
AB 2370 comes a day after the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials held an Oversight Hearing on the status of testing low-income children for lead exposure, where experts agreed that low-income children are at greater risk of lead poisoning.