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NC gets an 'F' for lead in schools, daycares; new legislation would require testing

Lawmakers, school board members and environmentalists are using CMS test results as evidence that all school districts and daycares should be required to test for lead in buildings built before 2014.

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina is failing our children when it comes to testing for lead in the water they drink at schools and daycares, according to a new report by Environmental North Carolina.

The group gave North Carolina and 21 other states an "F," prompting lawmakers, school board members, and environmentalists to demand change.

"North Carolina is receiving an 'F,' a failing grade when it comes to protecting our children," Environment North Carolina Director Drew Ball said. "There is no safe level of lead."

During a news conference Thursday afternoon in Raleigh, Ball cited Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' voluntary lead testing as evidence more testing is needed. 

RELATED: CMS releases water testing results from 2 high schools

RELATED: High lead levels found at 6 CMS schools

CMS found elevated levels of lead at nearly half of the 89 schools tested and took corrective action as a result. One cafeteria water fountain at Garinger High School, which CMS took out of service, registered a lead level of 658, which is more than 43 times higher than the EPA action level of 15.

Rep. Harry Warren (R) of Rowan County is sponsoring a bill filed this week that would require older schools and child care facilities to test for lead in drinking water. 

He said the legislation would make it mandatory to test buildings built before 2014. The legislation wouldn't just require testing; it would also provide $8 million in funding to help districts take corrective action when they find elevated lead levels.

Kids are especially vulnerable to lead. Experts said exposure can reduce a child's IQ.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools joins CMS, Gaston, Union, and Iredell-Statesville as districts that have taken proactive steps when it comes to lead.

Most schools nationwide don't test for lead. Only six states require it. Virginia is the closest state to the Carolinas that fits into that category.

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RELATED: CMS voluntarily testing 35 more schools for lead in water

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