Legislators announce bipartisan ‘Filter First’ bills to protect children from lead in drinking water at schools and daycare centers

LANSING, Mich. ⁠— Legislation introduced today by a bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers would protect children from exposure to toxic lead in drinking water by implementing a “Filter First” strategy in Michigan schools and daycare centers. Bill sponsors include Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint); Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington); Rep. Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) and Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids Township).

“Every parent should be able to trust that when they send their child off to school or drop them off at daycare, they will be drinking clean, safe water throughout the day,” said Sen. Ananich. “As building infrastructures continue to age, water quality becomes increasingly unpredictable. Our bills take the guesswork out of it by ensuring that schools and daycares install filters, keeping lead and other toxins out of the water supply and our kids safe and healthy.”

“Schools and daycares are meant to be places for children to thrive,” said Sen. VanderWall.  “When lead gets into the drinking water of these institutions — leached from plumbing, fixtures, and fittings — it presents a grave risk to their development. It is unacceptable and it is time for change.”

Unfortunately most plumbing materials contain lead. Protective coatings on plumbing that prevent corrosion of plumbing and leaching of lead into drinking water are less effective in schools and daycare centers because the water sits stagnant in plumbing for long periods of time during the evening, on weekends and during breaks.

The most protective solution to lead in school and daycare drinking water is to place filters at the point of use: both installing filtered faucets and water bottle filling stations and installing on-tap filters in sinks where water is used for human consumption, like school kitchens. Carbon filtration has also been shown to be effective at filtering out long-chain PFAS.

“This issue is critical to me,” said Rep. Afendoulis. “Portions of my district are riddled with PFAS contamination which is hurting people, property values and dreams. I have looked into the eyes of mothers who fear for their children’s health because the water they drink or play in is contaminated with PFAS, lead or other toxins. No parent should have that concern about a basic necessity and right. And no child should suffer.”

“The children of Michigan are the future of Michigan and they are also the most impacted by the negative consequences of lead exposure,” said Rep. Neeley.  “We must protect the health of our state’s most vulnerable residents and take action now to safeguard our children’s future potential.”

The Filter First bill package — SB 589 (Ananich), SB 590 (VanderWall), HB 5104 (Neeley), and HB 5105 (Afendoulis) — is a comprehensive strategy that includes filter replacement, verification testing, signage and clear direction to children and caretakers on safe drinking water sources, and transparency and communication with parents. The bills would also ensure that schools and daycares receive the financial and technical support from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy that they need.


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