Cherry Hill Students Exposed to High Levels of Lead in Water

lead in drinking water

School water supplies contaminated with lead have been found all over the state of New Jersey, most recently in Cherry Hill. Nine water sources at five public school buildings were found to exceed government-set limits for lead, the school system announced last month, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Water samples were taken from fixtures at Bret Harte, James Johnson, Horace Mann, Joseph D. Sharp, and Woodcrest Elementary Schools. The school system announced the discovery in a letter by Superintendent Joseph N. Meloche, who also stated that all of the contaminated outlets have been taken out of service. He claimed students need not bring their own water to school, because there are sufficient safe supplies available.

Lead testing has been mandated by the state for all public schools. Gov. Christie called for the testing earlier this year after elevated lead levels were found in the Flint, Michigan, public water supply. High lead levels in water have been found in schools in 13 other New Jersey school districts.

Lead normally leaches out of older water lines, pipes, plumbing fixtures and fittings and into the water in older buildings where lead was used in solder to connect water pipes. Cherry Hill’s schools were built between 1955 and 1970. The five schools with high lead levels were built between 1958 and 1967.

The contaminated Cherry Hill water samples exceeded 15 parts per billion, the limit the federal Environmental Protection Agency has set for corrective action. A total of 209 samples were taken from Cherry Hill school buildings. More bad news may follow, as 19 more schools are supposed to be tested by the end of the year.

Cherry Hill’s plans to address the lead contamination were laid out in a later letter by Meloche, reports

  • “Bubbler” water fountains will be removed from classrooms that serve students from grade one and higher.
  • Plumbing fixtures will be removed and filters installed in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms where high lead levels were found.
  • Warning signs will be placed on all classroom sinks, stating they should be used only for hand washing.
  • Plumbing fixtures will be replaced and filters installed in faculty rooms, nurses’ offices and kitchen sinks where high lead levels were detected.

Meloche stated these new plumbing fixtures will be re-tested for lead. The price tag for the remediation is reported to be about $150,000.

High levels of lead can be dangerous to a variety of people:

  • In young children, it could result in lower IQ levels, hearing problems and attention deficit disorder.
  • Children born of pregnant women who have high lead levels can suffer developmental delays and low birth weight.
  • Adults can suffer brain and kidney damage due to lead poisoning.

If you believe that you, a member of your family or your child has been injured due to high lead levels in New Jersey school drinking water, contact our office,  so we can talk about the injuries, the water situation at the school in question, how the law may be applied in your situation and your best options to obtain compensation for these injuries. Get the help you deserve (973) 358-6134.

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