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Murray, Schatz Release Concerning Report on Lack of Testing for Lead-Based Paint in Schools

Disturbing study finds that only 12 percent of school districts inspect for lead-based paint and of those, roughly half discovered dangerous traces of lead in school buildings


Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) released a troubling report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found that the vast majority of school districts do not inspect for lead-based paint in school buildings and lack any inspection plans for the future. Only 12 percent of school districts inspected for lead paint in the 2016-2017 school year, and over half of the districts that conducted inspections found lead-based paint in a school building. The report concluded that while all school districts that found lead-based paint in their schools took actions to reduce or eliminate it, the number of schools with lead-based paint is surely greater considering only 6 percent of districts have a regular inspection schedule.


“The GAO’s findings are not only shocking, they are unacceptable,” Murray said. “No student in this country should have to sacrifice their own health to get an education, so I’m going to keep fighting to ensure that schools are regularly testing for dangerous materials, including lead-based paint. That starts with the Trump Administration taking these findings seriously and beginning to implement safeguards to keep students safe at school.”


“Our public schools should not be a threat to the students who learn in them,” Schatz said. “Yet many older buildings have dangerous lead paint that threaten the health and development of our students. As this report makes clear, many schools don’t even know it. This is dangerous, and the Congress should take seriously the need to repair and renovate our public schools.”


Concerned with the wellbeing of tens of millions of students across the country, Senators Murray and Schatz requested this report after another GAO report released last year revealed that less than half of school districts nationwide test their drinking water for lead. They have also called on the Department of Education to coordinate with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to organize lead testing in both the water and paint of America’s schools.


Read the GAO’s full report HERE.