Three city councilwomen introduced a trio of bills to try to protect Philadelphia children from lead exposure, following the water crisis in Flint, Mich., and a lawsuit over how the city handles lead testing.
The bills would require city public schools and day-care centers to test water for lead contamination, and landlords to tell renters about any lead pipes that connect buildings to water mains.
The legislation comes a week after a proposed class-action suit was filed against the city alleging that the Water Department was aware of high levels of lead in tap water and failed to warn residents. The suit claims the city tried to conceal results of water tests.
The lawsuit followed a report in the Guardian, the London newspaper, that the paper found shoddy water testing practices in 33 U.S. cities, including Philadelphia.
Councilwoman Helen Gym introduced a bill to require each public school to perform annual testing of water and obtain city certification that the water meets quality standards.
"We need to be vigilant, and we need to make sure that we're up to date with the latest science, and we need to commit to an expanded and robust testing program within our city," Gym said. "We're taking a 50-year-old problem like lead poisoning and we're trying to reenergize it, and get some attention to our city infrastructure and invest in our city infrastructure."
A bill introduced by Blondell Reynolds Brown would require that family and group child-care centers be certified "lead safe" before obtaining a license to operate from the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
"No parent should ever have to worry that her child might be exposed to lead in child care," Brown said.
The final piece of the package, sponsored by Cindy Bass, would update a law that requires disclosure of lead risks to renters and homebuyers to also include disclosure of any lead pipes leading to water sources.