Queens schools test high for lead: Report

Queens schools test high for lead: Report
Twelve schools in Queens were found to have elevated levels of lead, according to the Department of Health.
Rich Pedroncelli
By Naeisha Rose

Hundreds of schools across New York state are being tested for lead in over 100,000 drinking outlets and 12 schools in Queens were found to have some of the highest elevated levels, according to the state Department of Health’s website. The initial form of testing at the time involved running water for two hours the day before sampling. When the preliminary status report was released in July by the DOH, in cooperation with the New York StateDepartment of Education, less than 1 percent of schools seemed to have dangerous levels of lead in them, per the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards.

After the water crisis in Flint, Mich., however, many environmental experts and the EPA called into question the pre-flushing practice. Since then, Gov. Andrew Cuomo instructed that schools get retested without pre-flushing, and that pipes with lead in them will be changed without any cost to the schools.

In April, as samples were still being collected, the new DOE report made after the new rules showed that one in 20 schools “had elevated lead levels” in water fixtures, , according to the New York Post.

An interactive map at WNYC.org of the different schools tested depicts some schools having lead levels far surpassing the 15 parts per billion that the EPA has as a benchmark.

In the May 6 data sampling on health.data.ny.gov, 2,445 schools out of 2,940 have been tested so far. From these schools, 256,000 water outlets were examined. Over 400 of the schools are in Queens.

Connecting this data with the interactive map, 12 of the schools in the borough had lead levels that exceeded 1,000 parts per billion.

Those schools were PS 171, PS 111, PS 112, PS 149, PS 214, PS 022, PS 155, PS 131, PS 33, PS26, Voyages Prep and Forest Hills High School.

These schools stretched from southeast in the Rockaways to Long Island City in the west. The water fixtures in schools with 15 ppb and higher throughout the city were immediately put out of commission after the results, and are in the process of being replaced, according to the DOE.

“Resampling will take place in 2020 or sooner if the [Commissioner of Health] determines it is needed,” a represenative of the New York State of Health said.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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