Newark Is Shutting Down School Water Fountains Due to Lead Contamination

On Wednesday, 30 schools were ordered to shut off their drinking fountains, after elevated levels of lead were detected. The lead is reportedly coming from within the schools, not the Newark Water Department’s source water.

The AP reports:

The state Environmental Protection Department says parents should have no concerns about their children’s water and food consumption at school. The DEP says drinking water alone is not typically associated with elevated blood lead levels. Alternate supplies of water have been brought in for drinking and food preparation.

The district on Monday notified the DEP that annual testing found levels ranging from non-detect to above the EPA’s action level for lead, which is 15 parts per billion.


Mayor Ras Baraka said in a press conference:

I understand in the Flint environment that any sign of elevation is going to make everyone go haywire... But here, the water system in Newark is still safe, it’s still drinkable. There have been some high detectable levels of lead in about 30 of the schools.

The lead is likely coming from old pipes or soldering in the school buildings, which probably means the contamination has been present for some time. Parents were understandably upset when notified of the problem, and many were asking why they weren’t told sooner. There’s no answer to that, nor to when the issue will be resolved.


Image via AP.

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