“Roughly one out of every 20 water taps” in New York City elementary schools has elevated lead levels, according to a new report.
The Department of Education inspected about 100,000 taps in elementary school buildings — “including water fountains and faucets used for cooking” — across New York City between December 2016 and February 2017 and found taps that tested positive for elevated lead levels, the New York Post reports.
More than 6,000 taps showed lead levels higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) limit, which is 15 parts per billion.
Brooklyn had 18 schools with 20 or more taps with elevated lead levels. “Queens had 10 schools, The Bronx seven, Manhattan three and Staten Island two,” the Post reports.
“At PS 92 Adrian Hegeman in Flatbush, Brooklyn, one of the 32 taps that required removal in a boys bathroom registered a lead level of 11,000 parts per billion, according to DOE data,” says the Post.
“Concern over the lead in city schools has spiked in recent months,” with many of those concerned worried that a situation similar to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, could happen in New York.
The presidents of the five boroughs signed a letter to New York City Public Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña urging her to make the situation a priority.
“The tragedy of Flint, Mich., should not be repeated here,” the letter stated.
The DOE responded in a statement that the “suspect water sources have been removed,” the water is safe to drink, and that “there has never been a known case of lead poisoning due to drinking water in schools.”
When asked about the Post’s report Monday during a press conference, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would not comment on the report’s findings.
The city recently changed how it tests for lead in schools’ water, and tests found that “nine times as many water outlets” in the New York City public school system had lead levels above the EPA limit.