NJ to re­quire more lead test­ing in schools

The Morning Call - - LOCAL/REGION - By David Porter

BER­GEN­FIELD, N.J. — Pub­lic schools in New Jer­sey will have to test their wa­ter for lead twice as of­ten as they do now and share the re­sults on a yet-to-be-cre­ated state data­base un­der guide­lines an­nounced Mon­day by of­fi­cials.

The an­nounce­ment con­tin­ues a se­ries of mea­sures cat­alyzed by the re­cent wa­ter cri­sis in Ne­wark, where res­i­dents in 14,000 homes with lead pipes have been given bot­tled wa­ter since mid-Au­gust af­ter lim­ited tests showed some fil­ters weren’t ad­e­quately re­duc­ing lead lev­els.

Lead in drink­ing wa­ter has been linked to de­vel­op­men­tal de­lays in chil­dren and can dam­age the brain, red blood cells and kid­neys. It is most of­ten caused by lead ser­vice lines — pipes con­nect­ing a home to a wa­ter main — or lead fix­tures in a home or school.

The state Leg­is­la­ture is hold­ing hear­ings and the state De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion is step­ping up its in­ven­tory of lead pipes in wa­ter sys­tems around the state, a process that started ear­lier in the year.

Demo­cratic Gov. Phil Murphy was joined Mon­day at the Her­bert Hoover Ele­men­tary School by Demo­cratic Rep. Josh Got­theimer, whose of­fice re­cently sur­veyed more than 80 school dis­tricts in his dis­trict across four coun­ties in north­ern and west­ern New Jer­sey.

Got­theimer found that about 20% of the school dis­tricts didn’t post in­for­ma­tion on lead test­ing on their web­sites, and that in other cases the in­for­ma­tion was dif­fi­cult to find.

“Are the re­sults posted so par­ents can find them in an eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble way? As a dad, I want to know,” Got­theimer said. ”And I want to be able to look at that and quickly make a de­ci­sion. And I think the steps we’re tak­ing to­day will help to that end.”

Murphy added that schools that fail to com­ply with re­port­ing re­quire­ments could face cer­tain penal­ties.

“This prob­lem has been build­ing over decades, up and down our state and across the coun­try,” Murphy said.

Un­der ex­ist­ing guide­lines, schools are re­quired to test for lead every six years. Murphy said Mon­day that will be re­duced to three years.

Ear­lier this month, pub­lic records from the DEP’s lead pipe in­ven­tory ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press showed the state has about 160,000 lead pipes, though that num­ber was in­com­plete be­cause it in­cluded some par­tial re­sults from about three-quar­ters of the state’s nearly 600 wa­ter sys­tems. Of­fi­cials have said they ex­pect the num­ber to rise.

The sus­tained fo­cus comes as the state’s big­gest city grap­ples with pos­i­tive tests for lead in drink­ing wa­ter. Wider sam­pling of city-is­sued fil­ters in Ne­wark showed that up to 99% are ef­fec­tive, and the dis­tri­bu­tion of bot­tled wa­ter is be­ing scaled back this week.

Last spring, the city switched the chem­i­cals it was us­ing to treat its wa­ter sup­ply af­ter tests showed the pre­vi­ous treat­ment was fail­ing. It is fac­ing a fed­eral law­suit that claims it failed to ad­e­quately no­tify res­i­dents.

Gov. Murphy

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.