In a letter to parents posted online New Rochelle Schools Superintendent Brian G. Osborne announced the final results from testing last June for grades Pre-K – 5 in six elementary schools: Barnard, Webster, Ward, Trinity, Columbus, and Jefferson. (Tests results for Davis were reported last spring.)
206 drinking water locations were tested in the 6 schools. Of those, 19 or about 9% “exceeded the EPA ‘s action level of 15 ppb,” meaning the lead levels were too high to be safe. Eight follow-up samples also exceeded the action level. The District has shut off all the affected water sources. A list of the schools with lead contaminated water sources and their location in the schools is here.
In the Mamaroneck District, 13% of water in schools is said to be over safe limits.
According to Superintendent Osborne, bottled water and/or water coolers are being provided to students and staff in affected schools.
Experts say lead is toxic even in small quantities and some believe no amount of lead is safe. It can cause brain damage, leading to permanent behavioral and cognitive problems in children. In New York State there’s a new law, signed Sept. 6 by Governor Cuomo, requiring all schools to test their drinking water supply for lead contamination.
Under the new law, testing water under normal use conditions and that has been standing motionless for at least 8 hours is required. Schools must now report their results from standing water to the state Department of Health within one business day, while parents and staff must receive written results within 10 business days.
Any water outlet showing lead levels above 15 parts per billion must be discontinued while the school provides a lead remediation plan and an alternative drinking water supply to all building occupants. For a complete list of reports on the safety of the drinking water in New Rochelle Schools click here.
New York is the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation mandating schools to test their water supply for lead contamination, according to the New York League of Conservation Voters.
New Rochelle middle and high schools serving 6th-12th grade must test by Oct 31st, 2016 and the Superintendent says tests will start in September.
Photo Courtesy New York League of Conservation Voters website