Gov. Inslee orders steps to reduce lead exposure in state

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered a series of measures that seek to reduce lead exposure in the state including a review of an unenforced and unfunded rule requiring testing of school drinking water for lead.

Inslee's office announced the directive on Monday, following a week of reports from Tacoma Public Schools that unsafe levels of lead were found in the drinking water at 13 elementary schools in tests done from 2013 through this year.

“While no imminent public emergency has been discovered, recent detections of lead in some water systems are highlighting the important roles our water utilities, schools, public health departments and the state play in ensuring we all have access to safe, clean drinking water,” Inslee said. “This directive will better ensure we’re working in coordination and leveraging resources effectively to tackle lead at all its primary sources, whether it’s water, paint or soil.”

The state rule was passed in 2009, but was never given money to be implemented. Inslee's order directs the state Department of Health to make a legislative proposal for testing public schools for lead and other environmental health risks such as mold, and to estimate the cost.