A test conducted on December 16, 2016 revealed a lead concentration level of 15,000 parts per billion in the water at PS 289 George V. Brower Elementary School in Crown Heights, as the New York Post reports.
A level of 5,0000 ppb, a third of which was found in one of the school’s classrooms, qualifies water as “harzadous waste” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency requires water suppliers to reduce lead levels if they reach 15 ppb. By comparison, the highest level of lead recorded during the Flint water crisis was 13,200 ppb.
Marc Edwards, a civil engineering professor at Virginia Tech, who helped expose the Flint scandal, said: “If you were the unlucky student who went to that fountain and was exposed to 15,000 ppb, there is almost no doubt you would get some level of lead poisoning.”
In July 2016, officials announced that less than one percent of all samples from the city’s schools exceeded federal standards. After the city’s water testing methods came under criticism, a second round of tests were conducted. Following the test results from December, Deputy Chancellor for Operations Elizabeth Rose of the NYC Department of Education said that the school’s critical fountain’s fixture and piping were replaced.
“The fountain was turned back on after testing in January that showed the level of lead was below 15 ppb,” Rose stated.
It was unclear how long the fountain’s water had been contaminated, and how many kids drank from it. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities in children, and kidney problems and high blood pressure in adults.
In September, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law requiring school districts across the state to conduct periodic testing for lead contamination.