In a startling report released this week, almost 200 Jersey City schools’ water fountains were found to contain lead contamination above federal standards. One of the fountains, said the report, contained contamination at more than 800 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard. Thirty-seven had levels of more than 100 times the standard.
Lead poisoning is a particularly pernicious problem among children. At high enough levels, it can lead to harsh physiological symptoms in the short term of loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, anemia, and tiredness. But in the long term, it can lead to serious debilitating conditions, including learning disabilities and permanent mental and behavioral problems.
Xiaoguang Meng, a Stevens Institute of Technology professor, recommended parents of children in the affected schools to only drink water brought from home, and not drink tap water from anywhere inside the schools.
Apparently, this is not the first time Jersey City has struggled with this issue.
“We started this in 2008,” said a parent advocate, of an earlier and similarly expensive round of testing. “It’s 2013 now. That was the second lead remediation company that they paid thousands of thousands of dollars to and the problem’s still not fixed.”
All told—in this current study—over a thousand fountains and sinks were examined from October 2012 to January 2013 at the cost of over $20,000.
A color-coded online map of the schools implicated in the study has been posted here: https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=200932470723016569113.0004d8758c4e815e0514a&ie=UTF8&t=m&ll=40