Nine SOMSD water sources found to contain higher levels of lead

SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The South Orange-Maplewood School District, in compliance with the Department of Education regulations and technical guidance developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, identified and tested all drinking water and food preparation outlets, according to a June 12 press release from the district. Of the 223 samples taken, all but nine tested below the lead action level established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for lead in drinking water.

The lead action level is 15 parts per billion; anything with a lower count of lead is deemed safe by the EPA.

The hallway by Room 105 in Seth Boyden had the highest lead content, at 444 parts per billion. The other eight instances were at levels significantly lower. At South Mountain School, Room 3 tested at 17.2 ppb; at South Mountain Annex, Room 103 tested at 30.3 ppb and the hallway outside the room tested at 28.5 ppb; at Tuscan School, Room 22 tested at 46.1 ppb; the concession stand at Underhill Field tested at 15.3 ppb; and, at Maplewood Middle School, Room 22 tested at 46.1 ppb, the kitchen at 16.7 ppb and the teacher’s lounge at 46.8 ppb.

According to the release, in accordance with the Department of Education regulations, SOMSD implemented immediate remedial measures for any drinking water outlet with a result greater than the action level of 15 parts per billion.

“As soon as we received the results, the facilities department pulled these nine water sources offline, covered them and labeled them as unsafe to drink,” Superintendent of Schools John Ramos Sr. wrote in a letter to the community. “No one should attempt to use or reconnect these water sources. We have bottled water available at the affected schools.”

These water sources will be replaced and/or equipped with a filtering system and retested before additional use is permitted.