MAPLEWOOD AND SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The following was sent via email to the South Orange Maplewood School District (SOMSD) community on Monday, June 12, from John J. Ramos, Sr., SOMSD Superintendent.

Dear SOMSD Community,

SOMSD is committed to protecting student, teacher, and staff health. To protect our community and be in compliance with the Department of Education regulations and technical guidance developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, SOMSD identified and tested all drinking water and food preparation outlets.  Of the 223 samples taken, all but 9 tested below the lead action level established by the US Environmental Protection Agency for lead in drinking water (15 µg/l [ppb]).

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The table below identifies the drinking water outlets that tested above the 15 µg/l for lead, the actual lead level.



First Draw Result in µg/l (ppb)

Seth Boyden

Hallway by Room 105

444 ppb

South Mountain

Room 3

17.2 ppb

South Mountain Annex

Hallway by Room 103

28.5 ppb

South Mountain Annex

In room 103

30.3 ppb


Room 22

46.1 ppb

Maplewood Middle

Girls Locker Room

18 ppb

Maplewood Middle


16.7 ppb

Maplewood Middle

Teacher Lounge

46.8 ppb

Underhill Field

Concession Stand

15.3 ppb

Remedial Action:

In accordance with the Department of Education regulations, SOMSD implemented immediate remedial measures for any drinking water outlet with a result greater than the action level of 15 µg/l (parts per billion [ppb]).  As soon as we received the results, the facilities department pulled these 9 water sources offline, covered them, and labeled them as unsafe to drink.  No one should attempt to use or reconnect these water sources.  We have bottled water available at the affected schools.

These water sources will be replaced and/or equipped with a filtering system and retested before additional use is permitted. 

Last year, lead testing was completed and all areas met safety standards. These results were posted on the district website:

We recognize that families and staff at the affected schools will have questions.  Information from the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Water Supply and Geoscience is attached.  We are meeting today with the South Orange Health Officer, since South Orange recently experienced a water issue, and with the Maplewood Health Officer.  We will share any additional information that becomes available.  In the meantime, if you have health concerns about the lead testing, we encourage you to consult with your doctor. 


Dr. John J. Ramos, Sr.



State of New Jersey

Department of Environmental Protection

Division of Water Supply and Geoscience

Health Effects of Lead

High levels of lead in drinking water can cause health problems. Lead is most dangerous for pregnant women, infants, and children under 6 years of age. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. Exposure to high levels of lead during pregnancy contributes to low birth weight and developmental delays in infants. In young children, lead exposure can lower IQ levels, affect hearing, reduce attention span, and hurt school performance. At very high levels, lead can even cause brain damage. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults.

How Lead Enters our Water

Lead is unusual among drinking water contaminants in that it seldom occurs naturally in water supplies like groundwater, rivers and lakes. Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of the corrosion, or wearing away, of materials containing lead in the water distribution system and in building plumbing. These materials include lead-based solder used to join copper pipe, brass, and chrome-plated brass faucets. In 1986, Congress banned the use of lead solder containing greater than 0.2% lead, and restricted the lead content of faucets, pipes and other plumbing materials. However, even the lead in plumbing materials meeting these new requirements is subject to corrosion. When water stands in lead pipes or plumbing systems containing lead for several hours or more, the lead may dissolve into the drinking water. This means the first water drawn from the tap in the morning may contain fairly high levels of lead.

Lead in Drinking Water

Lead in drinking water, although rarely the sole cause of lead poisoning can significantly increase a person’s total lead exposure, particularly the exposure of children under the age of 6. EPA estimates that drinking water can make up 20% or more of a person’s total exposure to lead.

For More Information

For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home and the health effects of lead, visit EPA’s Web site at, call the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-LEAD, or contact your health care provider.

If you are concerned about lead exposure at school or in your home, you may want to ask your health care providers about testing children to determine levels of lead in their blood.