Ongoing lead testing flags high levels in S. Mtn. water fountain

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — On July 19, the South Orange-Maplewood School District sent a letter to the community revealing that recent lead tests conducted in district schools showed a high level above the statutory limit at one water fountain in South Mountain Elementary School.

“As part of the South Orange-Maplewood School District’s commitment to safety, we continue to test our water outlets for lead,” the letter read. “Furthermore, in 2017 all drinking water fountains were equipped with a filter as an additional layer of protection, and the district also put in place a system to regularly monitor and replace those filters. Together these protocols are intended to prevent and detect exposures to the maximum extent possible.”

To ensure the water in the schools remains safe to ingest, the district routinely tests the schools’ water sources. All water test results can be viewed at www.somsd.k12.nj.us/district/business-office/watertestingresults.

According to recent lead tests conducted at South Mountain, the water fountain near Room 102 registered with lead at 15.7 parts per billion, which is above the statutory limit of 15 parts per billion. As such, this water fountain has been removed from service. In accordance with state guidelines and with the support of the district’s lead testing company, Lew Corp., plumbing and filters will be replaced. The water fountain will not be placed back into service until the issue is remediated and water testing falls below lead action levels. 

For a better understanding of the implications of lead, visit www.state.nj.us/dep/watersupply/dwc-lead.html on the state website. Health experts continue to remind the public that exposure to lead paint and other environmental stimulants are the greatest dangers for lead poisoning. If parents or guardians are concerned about exposure to lead, the recommended first step is to consult with your primary care physician or pediatrician. In the event that the parent or guardian’s have limited or no health insurance, follow up through Zufall, a federal qualified health center located at 95 Northfield Ave. in West Orange; for an appointment, call 973-325-2266.

For additional information regarding lead screening, contact the Maplewood Health Department at 973-762-8120, ext. 4400, or the South Orange Health Department at 973-378-7715, ext. 2020. Both health departments have been informed of the results of this water lead testing and will be informed of subsequent remediation and testing.

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