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Water Testing At New Rochelle School May Have Spread Lead

Flushing the pipes while testing for lead in the water at the George M. Davis Elementary School in New Rochelle may have spread the problem.
Flushing the pipes while testing for lead in the water at the George M. Davis Elementary School in New Rochelle may have spread the problem. Photo Credit: nred.org

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Tests conducted at a New Rochelle school after lead was found in certain water fountains may have spread the problem to other sources, according to a final report issued Thursday.

The tests were voluntarily conducted at all New Rochelle schools this spring in reaction to concerns raised by the discovery of lead in the drinking water at Newark, N.J., schools.

George M. Davis Elementary School was the only one in the New Rochelle district where elevated lead levels were found.

After initial tests in March, the district turned off the drinking fountains and sinks and provided bottled water and other sources at the school.

According to the results of the follow-up tests in April and May, which required the flushing of the school’s plumbing, elevated levels were found at additional locations.

A comparison of the last two results showed 19 more sources at the school exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency's "action level" of 15 parts per billion.

"It is possible that the methodology used for flushing the pipes by the plumbing contractor contributed to the higher results," the report said.

Engineering consultant Louis Berger and the Westchester County Department of Health are now making a number of recommendations to correct the situation, the final report said.

These include:

  • Installing new drinking fountains in hallways “to establish centralized drinking locations."
  • Using filters at drinking fountains and other water sources.
  • Removing drinking fountains in classrooms.
  • Modifying classroom sinks to prevent bottle filling.
  • Replacing old ceramic type drinking fountains that have been known to have lead-lined basins.
  • Cleaning all faucet aerators for sources that are used for drinking and/or cooking.
  • Flushing the plumbing system once a week and the drinking fountains every day.
  • Conducting periodic testing for lead.

To read the full final report, click here.

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