This legislation requires lead in drinking water testing and remediation at a limited number of child day care facilities in New York. With young children at highest risk of life-long damage from this neurotoxin, New York must take steps to ensure day care facilities are lead-free spaces.
There is no safe level of lead in drinking water. The growing bodies and developing organs of children are especially vulnerable to lead exposure. Even low levels of lead in children can cause neurological damage, impaired hearing, slowed growth, and anemia.
This legislation builds on New York’s nation-leading efforts to reduce lead in drinking water. In 2016, the Legislature required public schools to regularly test their tap water for lead and take action if elevated levels were discovered. A 2018 analysis of the statewide testing data revealed the shocking prevalence of lead in drinking water: around 82% of school buildings reported one or more taps that tested above the state lead action level (15 parts per billion).
It is time to expand protections against lead in drinking water to day care facilities statewide, where young children can spend a large proportion of their time. It is essential that New York guarantees these children clean and safe drinking water. New York City and nine other states already require lead testing at certain day care facilities.
We recommend expanding this legislation to all day care facilities licensed or registered with the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). The legislation currently only applies to child day care centers, while excluding home-based care such as group family day care homes and family day care homes. Recent data from OCFS indicates that 12,099 home-based facilities, with the capacity to serve 154,774 children, would not be covered by this legislation. All children in day care should have the same drinking water protections, regardless of the type of facility they are placed in.
This bill amends Section 1110 of the Public Health Law to expand testing for lead in drinking water to certain day care facilities.