On Monday May 2, 2016, New Jersey State Governor Chris Christie held a press conference at which he announced the state will test all of its schools water outlets for lead. The announcement was in response to eye-opening joint press release by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Newark Public Schools, Wednesday March 9, 2016. The press release contained test results showing that 30 school buildings in Newark had lead levels well above the federal action limit of 15 parts per billion (ppb), the highest test level coming in at over 500 ppb. The startling results prompted further testing of the municipal water supplies showed no elevated lead levels; suggesting the school district’s aging infrastructure is to blame. Christie added that the State will adopt more rigorous lead monitoring standards consistent with the most recent recommendation of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Currently, New Jersey relies on the previous recommendation made by the CDC. Under the old recommendation an official investigation is initiated if a child’s blood is found to have a concentration of lead that is 10 micrograms (ug) per deciliter (dL) of blood; the new recommendation initiates an investigation at just 5 micrograms. This makes New Jersey the 29th state to adopt the CDC’s tougher recommendation. Finally, the governor announced that he had found ten million dollars in the State’s budget to cover the cost of the testing and urged the State’s Legislature to approve an additional ten million to cover more immediate infrastructure upgrades.
The issue of Lead in America is a complicated one, and Newark is not the only municipality with troubles. According to a USA Today network report excessive levels of lead can be found in nearly 2000 water spanning all 50 states. Furthermore, there is an estimated 7.3 million lead service lines currently in use throughout the country. However, even though there is a lot to be concerning news regarding lead, the United States has made significant progress in decreasing the the country’s environmental exposure. The two most important reforms to date are: the ban of lead paint for residential use in 1978 and the phasing out of leaded gasoline throughout the 1980’s. In fact, these measures were so effective that the average amount of lead found in a children’s blood fell from 15 ug/dL to 2.7ug/dL between 1978 and 1994(an 80% improvement over 16 years). While these results are very encouraging even the CDC states there is still a lot of work to be done. Lead is known to cause irreversible damage to: the kidneys, the nervous system, the reproductive system, the cardiovascular system, and the brains of fetuses and young children. There is no known lower threshold at which lead will affect a child, so it is critical that exposure be kept as low as possible.
The issue of lead in schools is an extremely serious one, and we at Clearly Filtered offer our prayers and support to all those affected by this developing situation. We also would like to applaud the state officials of New Jersey for their action on the issue. While there has been a lot of progress on this issue even the CDC admits that there is still along way to go. For example amounts of lead exposure below the federal action limit are still known to be dangerous, but no one is obligated to address presence of lead below that limit. So how can the public protect itself from this obvious gap in coverage? First, educate yourself about your water supply. (Does your water contain Lead or are you traveling to an area where Lead contamination is prevalent i.e. a foreign country) Next, evaluate your filtration needs. While the EPA and CDC do not test filter for their effectiveness against lead, according to Cornell University activated carbon is the easiest means of reducing and eliminating lead from drinking water (Read Cornell’s Activated Carbon Fact Sheet here). If you are worried that you or someone you know is drinking water contaminated with lead please feel free to browse our selection of tested premium activated carbon filters.
- Center for Disease Control
- Environmental Protection Agency
Beyond Flint: Excessive lead levels found in almost 2,000 water systems across all 50 states. (2016). Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/03/11/nearly-2000-water-systems-fail-lead-tests/81220466/
Susan K. Livio and Claude Brodesser-Akner | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. (2016). Christie: All N.J. school water fountains to be tested for lead. Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/05/christie_all_school_water_fountains_to_be_tested.html
- CDC Fact Sheet for the Reduction of Blood Lead Levels in Children
- EPA & HUD Fact Sheet on Lead in Homes
- Cornell University Fact Sheet Activated on Activated Carbon