State Reps. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) and John Boccieri (D-Poland) today renewed their call for their legislation to mandate the use of domestic steel in schools amid state reports showing that ten percent of school drinking water fixtures had elevated levels of lead last year. The state testing of school water fountains was included in legislation that passed in the wake of the lead contamination crisis in Sebring last year. Boccieri and Ramos introduced House Bill 57 soon after the crisis to require that all schools receiving public funding use American steel in school construction and renovations.
“This problem is even more widespread that we could have imagined. Our children are being put in harm’s way by importing cheaply made foreign goods, containing dangerous chemicals. We have to do something right away to protect our kids,” said Ramos.
State reports showed that over 1,400 out of 14,000 Ohio school drinking water fixtures contained lead levels above the federal limit. School districts recently completed their voluntary testing with funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC). So far, the OFCC has released $500,000 for testing and drinking fountain or faucet replacement. Approximately half of the fixtures found to be contaminated have been replaced, while the rest have been shut off or are otherwise unused.
“Any number of contaminated fixtures in our schools presenting health risks to young students means we still have a problem,” said Boccieri. “We need to do more to eliminate lead contamination and protect the safety of our kids. Requiring the use of safe, American steel in our school infrastructure is one way to start getting there.”
China’s illegal over-subsidizing of their steel industry has given it a competitive advantage in markets, but has also resulted in a cheap product that is not up to American standards. Boccieri noted there have been multiple reports of faulty Chinese steel causing health and safety risks in the U.S.
HB 57 had one hearing last year in the House Labor and Economic Development Committee. The bill has 19 cosponsors, including the Chairman of the committee where the bill is being heard.