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Water warning in NJ schools after high amounts of lead found

Posted at 10:21 AM, Mar 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-25 12:34:25-04

Don’t drink the water — That’s the message plastered above water fountains and sinks all across one school district. The warnings are up at dozens of schools in Jersey City including Nicholas Copernicus Elementary School on Kennedy Blvd.

Tests have shown that nearly 200 water fountains in about 30 public schools contain lead above safe federal standards. Nicholas Copernicus was the worst with 20 fountains and sinks with lead levels above safe levels.

Paulina Garcia has two children at the school and told PIX11, “I never really liked water fountains.  I always send my kids with water bottles to school.”  Garcia went on to say “If they could correct it, it would be good. But I would like it if the schools had water bottles with spigots. That would be preferred.”

The report shows some of the numbers were extremely high.  One fountain in Jersey City had levels more than 800 times higher than the E.P.A.’s standard for safe drinking water. Exposure to lead could delay a child’s mental development.

According to their web site the schools have taken action. They say all outlets with elevated levels have been taken out of service.  Water coolers and bottled water have been dispatched to those locations and they are installing filters, new water lines and new faucets. And faucets and sinks that are repaired will remain out of service until they are re-tested.

The problems appear to have come from old lead pipes and fixtures.