Sierra Club: Newark Lead Levels Still Way Too High, Even With Filters

Newark Lead Levels Still Way Too High, Even With Filters

According to local sources in Newark, officials found houses using filters have lead levels of 10ppb. In August, The EPA tested and found high levels of lead with filters in two residences in Newark. The agency strongly encouraged the city of Newark to take immediate action.

 “The city of Newark has sampled 300 homes and found that of lead levels are at 10ppb. This levels are still too high given the impact of lead to children. Filters should be removing 99% of the lead in water. The CDC and the EPA said there should be no traces of lead in the water. The private well drinking act sets the standard for houses on wells for 5ppb. 10ppb but it is still way to high that will have serious health impacts on children and the people of Newark. Its shows we are doing too little too late,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Newark tried the Brita Solution that hasn’t worked, they tried the Poland Spring solution that also has not worked. The city needs a long term solution, the lead problem in Newark has been going on for far too long.”

Lead levels in Newark’s water supply tested at 52 parts per billion between January 1 and June 30 of 2019. These are the highest levels ever recorded in Newark, an increase from 48 parts per billion during the last 6 months of 2018. Newark officials say orthophosphate corrosion control systems should begin to reduce the lead levels over the second half of 2019.

 “Even though lead levels in Newark’s water has dropped, it is still a serious concern. EPA action level for having to deal with lead is at 5ppb. This shows that Newark is not doing enough when their levels are at 10ppb. 10ppb for lead in water is too high and will threaten the health of people, especially children. This should be an alarm going off that the city has to replace all of the service lines. Newark has started to replace residential service lines, but that will take 3-4 years. We also need a minimum of $2.3 to $8 billion statewide to fix our lead problem Lead lateral lines also need to be replaced,” said Tittel. “Even a strong program to reduce lead takes time to work, and people will be impacted before that happens. Newark’s water is getting dirtier. They are adding chemicals to the water for lead abatement and working to close the reservoir to add orthophosphates, however that will take time. Meanwhile lead levels in the city’s water are still high.”

The Murphy Administration responded in helping Newark by delivering 20,000 replacement cases of expired water to residents.  Lead abatement funding from the state has suffered for years. Gov. Christie regularly used lead abatement money to fill budget gaps. Gov. Murphy has diverted money that could have gone toward fixing pipes in Newark to other sources. The result has put people in many communities at continuing higher risk of lead poisoning and illness from lead in their drinking water.

 “The lead crisis in Newark continues. Is shows the steps taken so far is not working and not enough.  The response from Newark and the Murphy Administration is too little too late.  For children in Newark, it is not just the drinking water that will have a serious impact on their heath, it’s the paint in homes, in the soil contamination in their backyard, and the air emissions coming from the Covanta incinerator. Given that filters are supposed to remove 99% of lead, at 10ppb, it is extremely high. A state of emergency should be declared, this is a public health catastrophe and many people, especially our children are at risk,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Is the glass half empty or full? It still has too much lead in it for drinking. Given all of the sources of lead impacting children, 10ppb is still extremely high. We need to remove the lead lines quickly and come up with another abatement program. We need to protect our most precious resource, which is our children.”

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