LANSING — State Representative Brian Banks (D-Detroit) said today that news of high lead levels found in drinking water at Detroit Public Schools (DPS) needs to be dealt with now. Detroit Public Schools officials announced yesterday the testing has revealed that 19 out of 62 DPS school buildings tested have elevated levels of lead and copper in the drinking water. Banks is calling for quick action on his bill, House Bill 4061, which creates a trigger when any health crisis exists dealing with lead. The bill would require an initial non-invasive screening and take steps to ensure that lead exposure in children is caught early so that long-term health impacts can be minimized.

“We know that severe problems are caused by any level of lead in a child’s system, and we have to take action now to address lead exposure quickly,” said Banks. “Lead has now been found in the drinking water of some DPS buildings, and we have to act now to try to prevent the worst effects of lead poisoning. We also need to move on my bill so that we have mechanism in place that will trigger lead testing for children whenever the threat of lead poisoning is discovered anywhere in a community.”

HB 4061 requires health professionals to order lead exposure screening when a patient, between the ages of 12 and 24 months, lives in any of the target communities named in the bill, which would include Detroit. If the Banks bill was law, then the DPS situation would trigger lead screening in very young children who might not be tested because they aren’t attending a school where a lead problem has been discovered. House Bill 4061 is needed because the earlier lead poisoning is discovered in a child, the quicker doctors, government officials, school officials and can take action to restore clean water and take steps to minimize the effects of lead poisoning in children.

DPS announced that in schools where high lead levels are found, bottled water will be available for students. District officials are working with the city to make sure that the water is safe, which could involve replacing faucets, drinking fountains or regularly flushing the system.