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Borough Presidents Call for Action on Lead in Public School Water Supply

All five borough presidents have partnered on a letter to New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, urging the Department of Education to take immediate action regarding recent reports of elevated levels of lead in the drinking water at some New York City public schools.

“While we understand that it takes some time to repair and replace contaminated fixtures, our children should not be unnecessarily exposed to high levels of lead while they wait for those changes to take place. The tragedy of Flint, Michigan should not be repeated here,” states the letter, which can be read in full at http://on.nyc.gov/2lgMlDf.

The borough presidents call on the Department of Education to provide an alternative water supply for affected schools, such as offering bottled water or water coolers; that free-of-charge testing for lead exposure be offered to those parents who wish their children to be tested; that schools install water filtration systems to prevent future contamination; and that the Department of Education implement regular lead testing at public school facilities.

“Parents should not have to worry that the everyday act of drinking water might make their children sick, especially in our public schools. These simple recommendations can help ensure the safety of our children while also preventing future lead contamination, and I am proud to stand with my colleagues to urge the Department of Education to take immediate action on this issue,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Our public schools should always be safe places for our children, and the city must take the appropriate steps to make sure that the drinking water provided to our students meets acceptable safety standards.”

“The health and safety of our children come first, plain and simple. We must ensure the highest standards are implemented and sustained when it comes to the drinking water in our public schools. Reports of elevated lead levels at some buildings need to be taken seriously, and that starts with ensuring every affected school has access to safe water and free lead exposure testing,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. I stand with my borough presidents on this important issue.”

“Our public school students’ safety needs to be our first priority,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “The Department of Education needs to take every precaution to prevent lead exposure and guarantee the safety of the running water in our schools.”

“Children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful health effects of lead because these effects occur at lower exposure levels in children than in adults,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “That’s why the DOE must do all that it can to prevent our children from being exposed to lead while they are in school. Any exposure to lead is unacceptable.”

“The recent reports of increased levels of lead in school drinking water are extremely troubling,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “Providing alternate water sources and testing students for lead exposure is the first step in keeping them safe from harm. This is an issue that the Department of Education needs to continually address through routine testing and water filtration. I join my fellow Borough Presidents in asking Chancellor Fariña to be proactive on this issue.”

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