Lead Tests Reveal 4 Contaminated Water Sources in New Brunswick Public Schools


NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Four water sources in various city schools have been shut down and marked for remediation after testing positive for lead above the legal limit, according to results posted by New Brunswick's public school district.

The tests occurred throughout the district over two days in late June, scrutinizing 260 sources of drinking water, according to a note from Superintendent Aubrey Johnson. That encompassed 80 more sources than the district tested last year, which showed 14 faucets were in need of lead remediation.

The most recent tests unearthed the unacceptable presence of lead in a kitchen sink at McKinley Community School, a bubbler in a classroom at Lincoln Elementary School and a hallway water fountain in both Woodrow Wilson Elementary School and New Brunswick Middle School, according to the rest results.

Sign Up for E-News

Lead is a poison that can cause short-term health problems and long-term illnesses, like heart disease, according to public health authorities. It may enter drinking water supplies when pipes or fixtures corrode, especially in older buildings, according to the government.

Federal regulations limit the legal presence of lead in water to 15 parts per billion.

Each of the contaminated water sources found this summer in New Brunswick's school district registered lead levels above that number. They ranged from 32.8 parts per billion at McKinley—or double the legal limit—to 477 parts per billion at Lincoln. The Woodrow Wilson fountain showed lead at 65.2 parts per billion, while the middle school's fountain hit 186 parts per billion, according to the results.

The majority of the 260 water sources had lead levels below or near 1 part per billion, which is below the legal maximum, according to the results.

“The official results are extremely positive,” Johnson wrote in a letter to the school community. “Each of these four sources were immediately removed from service and will be remediated as quickly as possible. Then, they'll be re-tested and will not return to service until acceptable readings are recorded.”

The Mountainside-based LEW Corporation performed the tests on June 27 and 28, and the samples were analyzed on July 10, according to district documents.

LEW recommended the district immediately stop using the water sources. Then, the contractor suggested, it should conduct “second-draw” samples, which could help to pinpoint the source of contamination.

Prior to the June lead tests, the district's facilities director, spoke with TAPinto New Brunswick about the initiative. He said the second round of testing of contaminated sources typically shows whether the lead is coming from deep within the pipe system or in the actual fixture, like a faucet.

“It helps you guarantee at the end that you're clean at the source,” he said.

The water-testing service also recommended that the district re-test these sources after they're remediated.

What's more, the contractor wrote, is that the district should eventually test a number of water sources that weren't included in this round because they weren't working at the time of the tests.

Water testing focused on fountains, kitchen equipment, ice machines and sinks in all of the district's schools, according to school documents.

This is the second consecutive year in which New Brunswick Public Schools undertook a districtwide hunt for lead in drinking water. School officials have noted that the state requires such lead testing to occur once every six years.

But after the lead crisis that gripped Flint, Michigan, and effectively cut off the impoverished community from safe drinking water, school leaders in New Brunswick opted to take a closer look at their water, LaDolce said. What the district found were 14 contaminated water sources, most of which were due to decaying brass in the fixtures, he said.

The Board of Education then decided to fix those problems, along with 10 other water sources that tested positive for lead, albeit at levels below the legal limit, LaDolce said. That decision came amid great public concern over the safety of drinking water in city schools.

After that campaign, those water sources then showed up clean, he said.

The district then found it prudent to test district water sources again—and that's what produced the results published today.

“The hope would be that everything comes back and is zero,” LaDolce said before the most recent tests took place. “That would be nice, but the reality is, it could be a moving target.”

Water pressure changes, use in other parts of the school or city, structural and chemical issues could change the lead status of water from a given source over time, he said.

Johnson, the superintendent, suggested that anyone with concerns regarding lead poisoning speak with their health care providers. He also noted that “children are far more likely to come in contact with lead at home than they are at their school.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - March 23, 2018


TRENTON - It's good to live in a state where the NRA is about as reviled as the act of putting peanut butter on a bagel. That's why we aren't worried about a NRA "alert" to members, urging them to contact Assembly members to vote "No" on a host of bills up Monday in Trenton. That includes sensible legislation that ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 22, 2018


STATEWIDE - It's been excruciating to write about snow; there's only so much you can blindly repeat without sounding like a 24-hour news channel. The final totals: 14 inches in the central and southern part of the state, and at least 5 inches in all northern counties. Yippee.  As of 6 a.m. this morning, the utility companies were ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 21, 2018


STATEWIDE - Utility companies are dragging themselves back into the war room this morning, preparing for another day of downed wires, public scorn and mounting pressure from the governor's office to magically keep all the lights on. One would assume the utilities are still trying to patch up fragile networks from the back-to-back nor'easters that ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 20, 2018


NEW BRUNSWICK - The governor has targeted The Hub City as the new hub for innovation and technology. Gov. Phil Murphy was in town yesterday to meet with city, business and Rutgers officials to chat about how all the ongoing downtown investment will be a magnet for scientific and technological innovation, TAPInto New Brunswick reports. The ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 19, 2018


TRENTON - New Jersey, one of the only employers who pays its workers for unused sick time, and then appears mystified when it struggles to balance its budget, may finally be capping sick-leave payouts.  The proposal, obviously unpopular with labor unions, has been discussed before, but not with traction. It is back in the mix again, to cap payouts ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 16, 2018


ON THE RAILS - Another commuting mess this morning, as the antiquated Portal Bridge got stuck in the "up" position at 4:22 a.m.  That caused a bunch of rush hour trains to be cancelled between Newark and Manhattan for four hours or so.  Both NJTransit and Amtrak riders were completely screwed. You may recall the proposed Gateway ...

Rutgers to close for Wednesday storm

March 20, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - With the likelihood of more than a foot of snow set to dump on New Jersey, Rutgers University President Robert Barchi has declared a weather emergency closure for all three campuses: New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden.

School will be closed for students and all non-essential employees from 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 21 to 5 a.m. Thursday, March 22.

Rutgers Student on Front Lines of Orangutan Conservation, Research

NEW BRUNSWICK - Deep in a tropical forest in Borneo 15 years ago, Rutgers student Didik Prasetyo first encountered a young male orangutan that he named “Jerry.”

The great ape was one of several orangutans that Prasetyo and other researchers followed at the Tuanan Orangutan Research Station in the Mawas Conservation Area in Indonesia. Prasetyo was skeptical when colleagues said ...

RU police investigate assault on Douglass campus

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University police are investigating an aggravated assault and attempted sexual assault  reported to March 14 at 3:55 a.m. in front of Hickman Hall on the Douglass campus.


The victim, not affiliated with Rutgers University, reported that she was walking with a male whom she did not know in the area of Commercial Avenue and George ...

City opens 6th ‘supportive’ housing complex, 12 units provide aid people who lost homes

March 22, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK – In a continuing effort to eliminate homelessness, city and county officials this month opened 12 units of low-cost and subsidized housing in a complex designed to provide counseling and support services for its residents.

Zebra Way, named for the street on which it is located off Van Dyke Avenue, is expected to have residents move in next month.

Tenants, including ...


DEP Control Ensures Protection for New Jersey's Vulnerable Birds

March 23, 2018

Dear Editor: In January, the Department of Environmental Protection regained control of the state-owned North Brigantine Natural Area when a long-term management agreement with the city of Brigantine expired. DEP introduced new permitting guidelines which will greatly reduce human disturbance and increase protections for shore birds. NJ Audubon applauds the DEP for its efforts to better ...

Congress Passes $5 Million for Delaware River Basin Restoration Program

March 23, 2018

TRENTON – The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP) has received $5 million in funding as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus spending bill approved by Congress. The bill will now go to the President’s desk for his signature.

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed worked with Congress on the authorization of the Delaware River Basin ...