School water tested for lead, as required by state

Bukola Adeleye and Kendra Brown

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Gov. Chris Christie ordered the regulations that were approved by the Board of Education after lead levels were found in NJ schools. Photo by Gioconda Beekman via Flickr.com, used with permission

At least 25 New Jersey school districts have found lead contamination in their drinking water as of April 2017, as reported by Patch.com. On June 15, the school’s water was tested for possible lead in the water, as mandated by the state. Dean Erie Lugo said he is confident that the school will have positive results. However, students said they find the water in the school unsanitary.

Governor Chris Christie ordered new regulations to require testing for lead in the drinking water of all New Jersey schools after elevated lead levels were found in 30 Newark schools in March 2016, as reported by NJ.com. All New Jersey schools must be tested by July 1.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lead is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in the earth’s crust.

“Lead can be found in all parts of the environment — the air, the soil, the water, and even inside our homes,” as reported on the website. “While it has some beneficial uses, it can be toxic to humans and animals causing of health effects.”

In accordance with that new law, the State of New Jersey Department of Education adopted regulations on July 31, 2016, regarding testing for lead in drinking water in public schools throughout New Jersey.

“As the risk of lead contamination can come from pipe and plumbing fixtures in educational facilities, in addition to the public water supplier (which has independent testing requirements), the Department is proposing a drinking water testing program be immediately instituted at all drinking water outlets and food preparation sources in all public education facilities in the State,” as stated on the NJDOE website.

Chemistry teacher Frederic Williams said that most of the water  that ends up in school or homes water systems have to do with the pipes.

“A lot of the old buildings have lead joints or lead based pipes. Plastic is your best way to go because its inert it doesn’t react. So water just flows through’” Williams said

Lugo said that the cost of testing the school’s water is “being reimbursed by the state” and that he is positive about the results, which should be received in a couple of weeks.

“Our building has been refurbished since 2002, compared to the older buildings in Newark schools that have pipes that are contaminated with lead,” Lugo said. “We are brand-new.”

Senior Noel Vargas said she thinks the school water is very unhealthy.

“First, water should not taste minerally or even have a taste at all. Water is supposed to be clean and refreshing, but our school does nothing to fix that,” Vargas said. “Second, the fountains are dirty with stuff in it such as chewed up gum and paper, and no one wants to drink from a water fountain that is dirty on the inside. Lastly, the school water is warm and not cold like it should be, that is very unhealthy and unsafe.”

Senior Christopher Roxas said he does not like the taste of the school’s drinking fountain water.

“I can’t really describe it. It tastes normal straight from the fountain, but after a while it tastes more gross,” Roxas said.

Williams said he likes the water.

“It has a good taste, but the only thing about it is that it’s warm,” Williams said.

Lugo said it’s the first time he has heard a complaint about the water fountains.

“I don’t personally drink tap water, not even at home, but due to the taste,” Lugo said. “I would rather drink bottled water like Poland Spring.”

Lugo said he calls the maintenance staff if there is a problem with a drinking fountain.

“In general there has been discoloration in the water, but it has been said that it is safe to drink by the state. We have checked off all water fountains on the do-not-use list. There would be notices for the students and staff on when not to use the water,” Lugo said.

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