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N.H. House Advances Lead Testing Bill for Young Kids, School Drinking Water

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A bill that would strengthen rules to prevent childhood lead poisoning is one step closer to the governor’s desk.

The New Hampshire House passed the proposal by a wide margin on the first session day of the year Wednesday.

The bill, which was a holdover from last year, mandates lead testing for all New Hampshire kids aged 1 and 2, though parents can opt out.

It also lowers the blood-lead level at which the state will intervene, and creates a loan fund to help landlords deal with lead paint issues.

The bill was amended to require lead testing in drinking water at public schools and day cares.

Representative Frank Byron, a Republican from Litchfield, said it's a first step toward fixing lead issues in New Hampshire’s aging housing stock.

“It has been 40 years since this nation banned lead paint and moved toward the eventual elimination of lead in gasoline and plumbing,” he said. “It is time for the state to do its part and to change again the laws that affect our children as far as lead poisoning.”

Opponents of the bill worry tightening the lead limit by 2021 will over-burden landlords or the healthcare system. The state Senate will decide whether to adopt the House version of the bill later this month. 

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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