Elevated lead levels at 30 Newark schools

- Some students in New Jersey's largest school districts are being told not to drink the water because of elevated levels of lead.

Newark public schools on Wednesday temporarily shut off all water fountains at 30 school buildings where elevated levels of lead were recorded. Bottled water and water coolers were brought in.


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.

The New Jersey Sierra Club disagrees.

"Lead should never be found in drinking water, especially in schools," said  Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "This incident is an alarm bell going off that we need to get to the bottom of this problem and address it. The children at these 30 schools were put at risk by this drinking water. In some places they found lead levels ten times what it should be."

The districts 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.

The DEP has confirmed lead has not been found in the city's water supply.

"This has been going on for at least a year, maybe longer. There needs to be more testing and pipe replacement in our water systems, especially the older ones in cities like Newark. Lead is one of the most hazardous substances known to man and has significant impacts to our children. We need to make sure that old pipes aren't adding lead to the water and if they are, we find it in time to make sure no one drinks it," said Tittel.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is expected to update the public on the findings during a news conference Wednesday.

The schools where the elevated lead levels were discovered are:

14th Avenue Elementary School

Abington Avenue Elementary

American History High School 

Bard High School Early College Newark

Barringer S.T.E.A.M. Academy

Benjamin Franklin School

Branch Brook School

Cleveland Elementary School

Early Childhood School - Central at Berliner

Early Childhood School - West at Old Speedway

George Washington Carver Elementary School

Hawthorne Avenue Elementary School

Ivy Hill Elementary School

John F. Kennedy School

Louise A. Spencer Elementary School

Luis Munoz Marin Middle School

Mount Vernon Elementary School

New Jersey Regional Day

Newark Leadership Academy

Newton Street Elementary School

Quitman Community School

Ridge Street Elementary School

Ridge Street Main

Roberto Clemente Elementary School

South 17th Street Elementary

South Street Elementary School

13th Avenue/Dr. MLK, Jr. School

Weequahic High School

Wilson Avenue School 

The FBI is currently investigating the water crisis in Flint, Michigan where the city's water became contaminated with lead when the city began drawing from a river in 2014 as a cost-cutting measure while under state financial management.

The water was not properly treated to keep lead from pipes from leaching into the supply.

With the Associated Press

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