Earlier this month, 30 buildings within the Newark school district were forced to use other sources of water when tests came back showing that the lead levels in the water were higher than 15.5 parts-per-billion, which is the standard set by the EPA. On Thursday, eight more school buildings had elevated lead levels.
What School Buildings Are Impacted By High Lead Levels?
- Alexander Annex/Boylan Transportation hub. Lead levels were high in 48.7 percent of samples taken.
- KIPP Life Academy had increased lead levels in 11.9 percent of samples.
- Paulo Freire Charter increased lead levels found in 25 percent of samples.
- Newark Legacy Charter had high lead levels in 14.9 percent of samples.
- Marion Bolden Student Center had high lead levels in 24 percent of samples.
- Newark School Stadium had high lead levels in 19.2 percent of samples.
- Unterman Field had high lead levels in 39 percent of samples.
- West Side Park had high lead levels in 45.5 percent of samples.
Lead in the water supply has become a huge issue ever since the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. In Newark, increased amounts of lead in the water was first brought to the public’s attention earlier this month. A teacher from Weequahic High School, who did not wish to be identified, spoke about what is happening at the high school.
“They gave us bottled water, (and) told us don’t use the water for lunch. They’re saying we could wash our hands with it, but I don’t trust that, the kids don’t trust that…This is crazy.”
— NYT Metro Desk (@NYTMetro) April 1, 2016
In February, an advocacy group stated that children in 11 cities and two counties had reported that they had a higher amount of children with lead levels than those in Flint, Michigan. The advocacy group is focusing on the fact that lead exposure was not only coming from tainted water.
“In light of the Flint debacle, we wanted people to understand that water is not the only thing that’s poisoning children. Most people think the lead problem was solved when we took lead out of gasoline and new homes in the 1970s, but that’s not true.”
The Department of Environmental Protection has released a statement about the lead levels found in Newark schools. The DEP is working closely with the New Jersey Department of Health and the Newark school district in order to ensure that the proper information is given to the public.
“Parents should have no concerns about students’ water and food consumption at the school while the situation is addressed. In the vast majority of cases where lead is found in drinking water, it enters through the water delivery system itself when it leaches from either lead pipes, household fixtures containing lead, or lead solder.”
— NYT Metro Desk (@NYTMetro) March 31, 2016
Parents who have children in the Newark school district have expressed concern in regard to their children being exposed to elevated lead levels in the school’s water. One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, feels that the children should not be in school until a solution to the lead problem is found.
“The (school’s) water was off, and they didn’t know why. The children should not be in school during this time.”
While some parents feel their children are not being kept safe in Newark, others feel content on how the school district is handling the situation. Nichole Donnell has a child in kindergarten and she commented on how the school is handling the lead situation.
“I’m happy with the administration here, and I haven’t had any problem with them making me aware of what’s going on.”
More and more cities are finding out that they have lead levels in the water that are higher than what is considered safe. Do you think more Newark schools will discover that they have a health risk with lead in the water?
[Image Via AP Photo/Richard Drew]