More than a half-dozen school districts on Long Island have tested positive for elevated lead levels at drinking fountains and sinks, the I-Team has learned.
Schools in Syosset, Port Washington, Valley Stream, Locust Valley, Jericho, Elwood and Northport-East Northport districts all tested positive for elevated lead levels in the last two weeks, according to records obtained by the I-Team and reporting radio partners WNYC and WSHU.
The testing comes after a water crisis in Flint, Michigan, raised awareness about water safety across the country and the revelation that dozens of schools in Newark tested positive for elevated levels of the heavy metals.
Dozens of school districts across the island have voluntarily tested water sources at schools in the wake of the crises. Currently, no state or federal law mandates testing at schools, but lawmakers at both levels have recommended
Some of the sources that tested positive for elevated lead levels included water fountains currently in use; others came from sinks and fountains that weren’t being used for drinking.
In Syosset, for instance, a total of five fountains – three at Bayliss Elementary School and two at Robbins Lane Elementary – tested positive for elevated lead. The school district said that while they determine what to do, they’ve shut off fountains and installed refrigerated water coolers.
Syosset officials said the town normally tests water sources for copper and lead every three years and that its schools weren’t due for testing for another year. But it said it decided to begin testing earlier than normal.
“Our testing is not yet complete, but we will inform the public of any additional findings. Meanwhile, we will also work to identify the source of the current contamination,” the district said in a letter to parents.
Officials with Northport-East Northport schools, meanwhile, said testing identified twelve water fountains in six of 10 buildings had elevated lead levels. The district shut down the fountains within hours of receiving the test results and is supplying alternate water sources to affected students and staff.
“The health and safety of our students and staff remains our highest priority. We will continue to update the community as additional testing is conducted and work is completed,” Northport-East Northport Schools superintendent Robert Banzer said in a letter to parents.
Parents told the I-Team they appreciated the proactive approach.
“Lead, that’s a concern,” said Vikas Rao.