Senators push EPA for scrutiny of child care facilities

October 28th, 2020 by Steve

An article by Hannah Northey, E&E News reporter, published: Friday, October 23, 2020 states:

Top Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
are calling on EPA to impose stricter oversight of drinking water in child
care facilities, where testing and monitoring of lead, a potent neurotoxin,
are lagging.

Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware, the committee’s ranking member; Tammy
Duckworth of Illinois; and Patty Murray of Washington urged Dave Ross,
assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Water, in a letter yesterday to
implement recommendations the Government Accountability Office laid out
last month to better protect children.

The senators said that while they have yet to secure an agreement from
EPA to implement GAO’s suggestions, the Department of Health and
Human Services’ offices of Head Start and Child Care have already agreed
to do so.

GAO, in its Sept. 28 report, found that only 26% of Head Start centers had
tested drinking water for lead contamination. The federal government
provides grants and oversight for Head Start centers nationwide, which
helps prepare young children from low-income families for school.

An estimated 43% centers had never tested their drinking water for lead
contamination, and 31% did not know whether their facility’s drinking water
had ever been tested, said the report.

Even at low levels, lead exposure in children can result in developmental
delays, learning difficulties, damaged kidneys and impaired brain
development.

“The EPA awards grants to help child care facilities test for lead in drinking
water, and must do more to support lead testing in Head Start and child
care facilities to ensure the health and safety of the young children in their
care,” GAO wrote.

The watchdog listed two recommendations specifically for EPA, calling on
the agency to develop an agreement with HHS’s offices of Child Care and
Head Start that includes guidance and information-sharing procedures for
both states and grantees.

GAO suggested that the Office of Water specify how it will track
implementation of that agreement, including developing performance
standards and generating annual reports.

EPA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the
letter and GAO report. The federal watchdog said in its finding that HHS
concurred with the recommendations, while EPA “neither agreed nor
disagreed with our recommendations but said it believed they were
redundant with existing activities.”

GAO wrote that it “continues to believe these recommendations are
warranted.”

The recommendations arrive as EPA is prepared to unveil the first revisions
to the nation’s lead and copper regulations in 30 years, changes that are
expected to include the first required testing and monitoring of lead in
drinking water in schools and day care facilities (Greenwire, Sept. 28).

View full original article HERE or the PDF.

Filed under: General

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