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Lead in School Drinking Water at Elevated Levels in Newark

Image: Lead in School Drinking Water at Elevated Levels in Newark
Valerie Wilson, center, school business administrator for the Newark Public Schools system, speaks at a news conference addressing recent finding of lead levels in Newark schools, Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Newark, New Jersey. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

By    |   Friday, 18 Mar 2016 11:38 AM

Elevated levels of lead in school drinking water have been found in 30 of Newark's public schools and, what's worse, it appears 22 of the New Jersey institutions have had higher-than-normal levels for the past two years.

The news provides the first comprehensive look at lead levels in the Newark school system, The Wall Street Journal reported. The district has provided lead testing each year for those schools that volunteer to be tested, but the"results weren’t made public in any routine way despite a district memo requiring their disclosure," the newspaper said.

Drinking fountains and faucets were shut off at the 30 school buildings in question last week by Newark officials after testing revealed elevated levels in at least one sample.

"I think school is the first place that they should be safe at," Tanquir Walker, a parent in Newark, told CBS News. "That just goes to show they are not on top of their game."

Newark Public Schools business administrator Valerie Wilson told CBS News that old fixtures, averaging in age of 82 years, were to blame for the problem. She said that, since 2004, the district had been addressing the lead problem by adding water filters.

"I am not a medical expert so I cannot provide that," she told CBS News when asked if she was confident that no children were harmed by the high lead levels. "I don't want anybody to think the district is not concerned about that, right? But it is not a primary source of contamination for children."

WNYC-FM reported Thursday that Newark rejected help from the Environmental Protection Agency to fight lead contamination in its school water supplies back in 2003. John Martin, EPA Region 2 spokesman, told the station that the agency was told at the time that the school district already had a program in place to fight the problem.

Marion Bolden, who served as Newark school superintendent from 1999 to 2008, told WNYC-FM that her facilities staff aggressively addressed water quality and other environmental issues, but others told the radio station that those protocols were not always carried out.

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Elevated levels of lead in school drinking water have been found in 30 of Newark's public schools and, what's worse, it appears 22 of the New Jersey institutions have had higher-than-normal levels for the past two years.
lead, school, drinking, water, newark
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2016-38-18
Friday, 18 Mar 2016 11:38 AM
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