Higher lead levels at Apshawa

Bottled water being used as fixtures are replaced

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  • Source: Nationswell.com


The West Milford Township School District is beginning to receive and publish the results of water testing for lead, a New Jersey state requirement as of July 13, 2016, following similar regulations enacted by New York State.

Preliminary results from six of the eight West Milford schools are in, according to a letter sent out to parents by School Superintendent Alex Anemone. The letter states that first draw samples from 22 out of 301 outlets tested were found to have a lead level greater than 15 ug/L, the action level set by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

“These results indicate that the elevated lead levels are the result of faulty fixtures and not our water source,” Anemone said in the letter. “These fixtures were immediately taken out of service and are being replaced.”

However, out of the results received so far, one school’s lead testing results — Apshawa Elementary School — were higher than the other schools, according to Business Administrator Barbara Francisco. That entire school has now been placed on bottled water until the district determines why the levels were high.

What are the state requirements?According to the state regulations, schools are required to sample and analyze all drinking water in all educational facilities for elevated lead levels no later than July 13, 2017, a year after the regulations were adopted. The testing must be done by a certified laboratory, where samples are to be taken after water has sat undisturbed in the school pipes for at least eight hours.

Then, within 24 hours of the district receiving final laboratory results, the district must make the test results of all water samples publicly available at the school facility and on the school website. If any results exceed the lead action level of 15 ug/L, parents and the DEP must be notified.

After July 13, 2017, schools will then be required to test for lead every six years. But if any drinking water outlet or plumbing is replaced, the school will need to test for lead.

Final resultsFinal results for the West Milford schools are expected within the next few weeks, Francisco said, and information required to be made public will be sent to parents and published on the school’s website. Some previous water quality testing reports are currently published online.

Why is lead dangerous?

The reason lead in water can be so dangerous is because, according to the EPA, infants and children who drink water containing lead in excess of the Action Level could experience delays in their physical or mental development. In children, these effects include slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities.
The EPA also says that lead can accumulate in our bodies over time, where it is stored in bones along with calcium. During pregnancy, lead is released from bones as maternal calcium and is used to help form the bones of the fetus, especially in women with not enough calcium in their diet.
Lead can also cross the placental barrier exposing the fetus the lead, according to the EPA. This can result in serious effects to the mother and her developing fetus, including reduced growth of the fetus and premature birth.
The EPA adds that adults who drink this water over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure.

Previous lead testing results:

Apshawa Elementary School
Hillcrest Community Center 2016 report : 3.46 ug/L
Marshall Hill School 2016 report: 11 ug/L
Macopin School 2015 report: 15 ug/L
Maple Road School 2015 report: 7 ug/L
Westbrook School 2015 report: 1.4 ug/L
West Milford High School 2015 report: 14 ug/L
SOURCE: West Milford School website
The most current lead reports are not yet available on the website

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