Sunday, February 19, 2017

NYC Public School Parents: Update on Lead - what's going on?

NYC Public School Parents: Update on Lead - what's going on?:

Update on Lead - what's going on?

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On Thursday night, I gave a presentation on the capital plan to District 6 CEC.  Since many of the   parents in the district at the meeting were  understandably concerned about the high levels of lead reported in the water of some of their schools -- including a finding of 6,620 parts per billion (ppb) and 493 ppb at the building shared by Muscota and Amistad, as well as elevated levels at P.S. 98, I.S. 52  and Washington Heights Academy, I also provided an update on this critical issue.
As I pointed out in this DNAinfo article, DOE officials had dragged their feet ever since the lead scandal erupted in Flint Michigan, which drew attention to this issue for the first time in years.   In its first round of testing last year, DOE refused to follow the recommended protocol and instead flushed out the water from pipes first before gathering samples which tends to diminish lead levels. This discredited method was also used by the government officials in Flint to minimize the problem of lead and also violated recommended EPA guidelines. Initially,  DOE also refused to test the water in schools built after 1986-- even though most experts advised all schools should be tested.  As Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech expert who brought national attention to the crisis in Flint said, The results should be thrown into the garbage, and the city should start over."
Then in June 2016, the NY legislature passed a new law requiring that lead at all schools be tested with the “first draw” of water to more accurately assess the dangers, as recommended by experts and the EPA.  Outlets found to have water with lead more than 15 parts per billion would have to be shut off and the sources of lead identified and remediated until levels fell below this limit. 
Though Governor Cuomo didn't sign the legislation until September, many districts started retesting the water over the summer in expectation that the law would take effect soon.  The NYS Department of Health released an memo in late August to school districts, informing them of the urgency of this issue; and emergency regs were issued Sept. 6.  calling for a deadline for retesting the water in all schools by October 31, 2016.  (You can check out the DOH documents here.)

Parents and others were supposed to be informed of the results within six weeks of testing, and districts mandated to report all results to the state no later than November 11, 2016.
Even after law passed, DOE refused to adopt the new protocols and insisted on testing lead as previously.  Inexplicably, NYC officials didn't even NYC Public School Parents: Update on Lead - what's going on?:
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