Officials Discover Lead in More Than 1,000 NYC Schools

Officials Discover Lead in More Than 1,000 NYC Schools

At school, things like clean drinking water should be a given. In NYC, though, officials from the Department of Education have yet to fully fix more 1,100 water fixtures found to have elevated levels of lead.

At school, things like clean drinking water should be a given. In NYC, though, officials from the Department of Education have yet to fully fix more 1,100 water fixtures found to have elevated levels of lead.

The 1,100 water fixtures in question are part of a much larger problem—the department says more than 12,000 water fixtures were initially affected. To date, officials say 11,292, or 91 percent, of those have been successfully remediated by replacing fixtures or pipes. An additional 435 fixtures in that group used for cooking or drinking have been shut off; others have signage indicating the water should not be consumed.

The Department of Education maintains the Department of Health has not linked any cases of child lead poisoning to school drinking water, and there are plans in place to retest all school fixtures over the course of three years.

"Water in New York City schools is safe for students and staff to drink, and all fixtures in DOE schools currently in use for cooking or drinking tested within the state's standard," schools chancellor Richard Carranza said in a statement. "We remain vigilant and will begin retesting fixtures in schools this year as part of our continued focus on water safety."

Still, concern lingers, as the news coincides with a citywide crisis, in which more than 2,000 children living in New York Housing Authority buildings tested positive for elevated levels of lead.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lead can cause brain damage, slow development and learning problems, among other issues.

"We have worked closely with the Department of Education to educate families about lead and what families can do if they are concerned about their child's potential exposure to lead," said Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city's acting health commissioner, in a statement. "Everyone should know that New York City's drinking water remains the best choice for staying hydrated and an excellent alternative to sugary beverages."