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Nearly a million water coolers now in use nationwide contain lead, a substance that poses a serious health threat to children, a study conducted by a key Congressional subcommittee has found.

The House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment commissioned the study following a Dec. 10 hearing at which researchers said water fountains in many schools contain unacceptably high levels of lead.

Previous studies have shown that children exposed to high levels of lead have a greater likelihood of de4veloping learning disorders and a number of physical ailments.

Eight days after the hearing, one of the largest makers of the products, the Halsey Taylor Company, halted production of lead-containing coolers.

A measure to fund the construction of schools in France for North African Jews was rescinded by the Congress this month in the wake of of harsh criticism from civil-liberties groups and some legislators.

The $8-million appropriation, sponsored by Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Democrat of Hawaii, was included in the $600-billion omnibus spending bill approved by the Con8gress and signed by President Reagan in late December.

Mr. Inouye asked his fellow lawmakers to rescind the appropriation after civil-liberties groups protested that it violated the principle of separation of church and state.

Three bills that would extend the deadlines for school districts to comply with the new federal asbestos law have been introduced in the Congress.

Environmental Protection Agency regulations issued for the law require all public and private schools to inspect for the cancer-causing substance and submit management plans to state authorities by next October, and to begin implementing their plans by July 1989. (See Education Week, Nov. 11, 1987.)

The bills--two in the Senate and one in the House--would extend both deadlines by at least a year, and one would grant an 18-month extension.

Congressional aides said the bills were prompted by concern that there were not enough inspectors and management planners certified by the epa and the states to complete the work required by October.

Both the National Education Association and the National pta have objected to the proposed extensions. The National School Boards Association is supporting the bills.

Vol. 07, Issue 21

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