Soon-to-be Virginia law will require school systems to test for lead

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In just a few weeks, a law in Virginia will go into effect requiring school systems to test for lead in water in schools built prior to 1986 and identified as high priority by the EPA.

Doctors say catching signs of lead early is key.

“We worry about the long-term effects of low doses of lead,” said Dr. David Arkin with Glen Allen Pediatrics. “There’s no safe level of lead that you can ingest.”

Arkin says children are extremely vulnerable to lead.

“And your body stores it, so if you get a little bit a time it can add up to a big amount,” Arkin explained.

He says the long-term affects are especially damaging.

“It causes brain damage,” Arkin said. “You lose developmental abilities. You’re not as smart.”

Senator Jeremy McPike, D-Prince William County, says he came up with the bill after deciding to test for lead in several buildings where he works in Alexandria.

“This is an important new step to identify clean water in our schools,” he said. “And we found over a dozen results of elevated lead in the water that we didn’t expect.”