Authorities have shut down the drinking water at 30 school buildings in Newark Public Schools, the largest school district in the state of New Jersey, after testing confirmed elevated levels of lead. The school district has approximately 35,000 students in 66 schools.
On Monday, March 7, the district informed New Jersey’s State Department of Environmental Protection that annual testing found lead levels that require additional testing. Drinking water for the city of Newark is believed to be unaffected, and Newark mayor Ras J. Baraka made a point to say that the water is “still drinkable” during a news conference on Wednesday.
“I understand in the Flint environment that any sign of elevation is going to make everyone go haywire, but here, the water system in Newark is still safe,” Baraka said, referring to the ongoing efforts to minimize the health effects of lead poisoning in the Michigan city, where lead from pipes in the Flint River have leaked into the drinking water and was confirmed when blood samples drawn from local children undeniably indicated lead poisoning.
In both cities, the health and welfare of children is of the greatest concern, given that the symptoms of lead poisoning can take several years to show up, and can include developmental delays and learning disabilities.