Lead levels in Newark school drinking fountains have been tested for weeks. The results sent directly to schools today. NJTV News Correspondent Michael Hill has just received the first grouping. He spoke about the results with Anchor Mary Alice Williams.
Hill: Mary Alice, eight non-traditional buildings were tested in this phase. They’re mostly charter schools we’ve learned. The results: all eight schools had at least one water fountain or faucet over a sink with lead levels of at least 15 parts per billion. That’s the EPA action level, we’re told.
The school district says these were schools that had not been tested this year and whose faucets were dry out of caution and bottled water was shipped in. These schools were not among the 60 or so tested and results announced three weeks ago. Back then, the district reported 30 schools had lead levels at or way higher than the EPA action level — some of them with a fountain or faucet testing at 558 parts per billion. Those schools turned off their drinking, hand-washing and food-prep water and now rely on hand sanitizers and gallons and gallons of bottled water.
A couple weeks ago, the state-run district began testing younger children for lead. They tend to be more susceptible to the developmental damage lead can do.
Medical doctors say lead is not safe at any level, as you know . And while testing is good, preventing exposure to lead, they say, is even better.
We just got this release and one of the things I want to point out here is that under the old way of testing, the district was relying on testing 10 water sources in each school under the enhanced measures, which is the non-traditional buildings here, they’re testing all of the water sources in these eight schools. And going forward they will do the same.
Williams: And going forward means testing two and even level three schools. What do you know constitutes level one, two or three?
Hill: That’s a very good question. Perhaps some of the district schools that they have not tested already and perhaps some of the schools they have tested already because they’re supposed to be at least a second round of the 30 schools that they tested a couple weeks ago and released those results. So we’re waiting to see when that testing will begin and what those results will be.
Williams: And they’ve known about this since 2003?
Hill: They have. And as a result, they issued a memo in August of 2014 and other years prior to that talking about how much they have to run the water and certain fountains before people can drink the water.
Williams: OK, thank you Michael.