The city hasn’t fixed more than 1,000 water fixtures in school kitchens, bathrooms, and classrooms that previously showed elevated lead levels, the New York City education department revealed Tuesday.
About 390 schools — almost a quarter of campuses across the city — are still waiting for remediation after a round of testing beginning in 2016 showed lead levels above the state’s standard of 15 parts per billion. The department says those faucets and fountains only make up 1 percent of all fixtures in city schools, and that affected water taps were immediately put out of service if they had been used for cooking and drinking.
“Water in New York City schools is safe for students and staff to drink,” Chancellor Richard Carranza said in an emailed statement.
The city says it has already fixed more than 11,200 fixtures that initially tested above the state’s threshold for lead.
More than 400 of the taps that still need to be remediated had been used for cooking and drinking fountains, and have had their water supply cut off, the city said. The remaining fixtures are used for other purposes, such as cleaning or hand washing, and are marked with signs that the water is not suitable for drinking.
The highest lead levels were found at I.S. 166 in the Bronx, where two classroom fixtures registered more than 3,000 parts per billion of the metal. New Dorp High School on Staten Island and Harry S. Truman High School in the Bronx had the highest number of faucets registering lead levels above state standards, which each had 27 different contaminated fixtures.
Children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can result in trouble in school including lower test scores and higher suspension rates. But recent research has found that simple interventions such as making sure students eat well can help curb the academic impacts of lead. The city says there haven’t been any cases of lead poisoning linked to schools.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has found itself embroiled in controversies when it comes to lead testing. The city has changed the way it checks for lead in schools after experts questioned its practice of flushing pipes before testing, and officials have been under fire for failing to inspect for lead paint in public housing units.
The city will begin retesting all school water fixtures this year, a process that is expected to take three years to reach 142,000 faucets.
Search the education department’s data to find whether your school is still in need of lead remediation. DOE Water Remediation Update 2017-18