SmartOakland Policy Support Letter re; AB 2370 – Child Day Care Center Drinking Water Testing – REQUEST FOR SIGNATURE

Download a pdf of the original letter here

September 4, 2018                                                            

The Honorable Jerry Brown
Governor
State of California
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re:  AB 2370 – Child Day Care Center Drinking Water Testing – REQUEST FOR SIGNATURE

Dear Governor Jerry Brown:

The undersigned organizations write in support of AB 2370, and ask that you sign the bill into law.  This bill requires licensed child day care centers, which care for 70 percent of the children in licensed care statewide, to demonstrate that their drinking water does not contain elevated levels of lead. 

Current law and regulations require child care centers to provide safe, potable drinking water to children and to draw the water from “noncontaminated” fixtures and containers.  However, most licensed child care centers are not required to test their drinking water for the presence of harmful contaminants, such as lead.  Centers that draw water from their own well – a minority of licensed centers -- do have to test their water to ensure that it meets water quality standards.

This weak enforcement is concerning because some water pipes, faucets, and fixtures in use today contain lead.  Over time, the lead can leach into the drinking water that touches the hardware.  Since most child care centers are in urban areas and often occupy older buildings, centers can house leaded pipes and other plumbing fixtures that might contaminate the drinking water and expose young children to the toxin.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control state that there is no safe level of lead in children.  Lead is a severe neurotoxin.  Even minute amounts of lead in the bodies of very young children cause harm to their central nervous system and this harm appears to be irreversible.  The damage caused by lead carries into adulthood and recent studies indicate that adults who had high blood lead levels as children have cognitive impairments and poorer life outcomes.  Lead can also cause cancer and other health conditions.

When very young children drink water contaminated with lead, they absorb 40 to 50 percent of the lead they ingest.  Adults, on the other hand, absorb between five to 15 percent.  Since children are so easily and indisputably harmed by lead, we should do all that we can to protect them from it.  A child’s stay with a state-licensed child care provider should not include a dose of this neurotoxin.

AB 2370 requires a licensed child day care center that is in a building constructed before 2010 to have its drinking water tested for lead contamination levels no later than January 1, 2023, and every five years after the date of the initial test.  Centers that find that their water contains elevated levels of lead must immediately stop using the faucet or fountain where elevated lead levels may exist and provide children in care potable water from another source.  Centers must also inform parents of the testing requirement and of test results, and the Water Board must post all test results on its internet web site.  The Department of Social Services, in consultation with the State Water Resources Control Board and with the use of a public stakeholder process, is to adopt regulations to implement the bill’s requirements by January 1, 2021. 

In addition, AB 2370 requires child care providers to receive, as part of their existing health and safety training, instruction on the prevention of lead exposure.  This instruction is not currently required.  Finally, the bill requires child care providers, when enrolling a child in their care, to give the child’s parents information about lead exposure risks and blood lead testing requirements.  Not all young children are tested for lead exposure as they should be, and many parents are not aware that their children should be screened for lead.

The recently enacted 2018-19 State Budget allocates $5 million to pay for drinking water testing for lead, and its related remediation, at child day care centers.  This funding allows centers to voluntarily test their drinking water and address any lead contamination before the testing requirement is imposed through regulations required by this bill.  

To date, seven states (Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey, and Rhode Island), as well as the city of New York, have required child care providers to test their drinking water for lead contamination.  California should follow their lead and ensure that our state’s 700,000 children, who spend 8 to 10 hours a day in child day care centers, are protected from water-based lead exposure while their parents work.

We strongly support AB 2370 and urge you to sign it into law.

Sincerely,       

Andria Ventura
Toxics Program Manager
Clean Water Action                

Susan Little
Senior Advocate, California Governmental Affairs
Environmental Working Group

Jim Lindburg
Legislative Director
Friends Committee on
Legislation of California                         

Rebecca Spector
West Coast Director
Center for Food Safety

Jena Price
Legislative Affairs Manager
California League of Conservation Voters                                       

Michael Green
Chief Executive Officer
Center for Environmental Health                                      

Stephanie Hayden
Executive Director, Co-Founder
SmartOakland Healthy Homes                              

Linda Nguy
Policy Advocate
Western Center on Law and Poverty

Leslie Mintz Tamminen
Director
Seventh Generation Advisors
      

Debbie Ores
Attorney and Legislative Advocate
Community Water Center

Rico Mastrodanto
Senior Government Relations Manager
The Trust for Public Land

Vicki Alexander, MD, MPH
Interim Executive Director
Healthy Black Families, Inc.
Berkeley, CA

Daphne Macklin
Advocate
Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations

Ed Howard
Senior Counsel
Children’s Advocacy Institute Of the University of San Diego

Ed Moreno
Policy Advocate
Sierra Club California

Laura Deehan
Public Health Advocate
California Public Interest Research Group

Robert M. Gould, M.D.
President
San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility

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