Officials in Newark have announced a program that allows city residents to replace their lead pipes after recent tests of drinking water found some homes and buildings with elevated levels of lead.
The city is also conducting an inventory of lead service lines in the city following the tests, officials said in a press release Friday.
Of 116 homes tested between January and June of this year, 13 of them had elevated levels of lead, according to the city's Office of Water and Sewer Utilities. That's about 12 percent of the homes.
“Recent tests have shown elevated lead levels, so we are now going to act swiftly, competently, and professionally to eliminate this menace from our city, by providing property owners with services and technology to do so,” Mayor Ras Baraka said in the release.
Baraka urged property owners to test their water for lead or have it inspected, and if high lead levels are discovered, to use the new program provided by the city.
Officials said lead service lines can be replaced for a nominal fee.
City spokesperson Marjorie Harris said no one has suffered ill effects from the water.
"The water is not dangerous," Harris said in an email to News 4. "We are simply advising residents of the results of our findings, as required by State law."
This isn’t the first time lead has come up as a health concern in Newark. Over the past two years, elevated lead levels were found in drinking water at half of the city's schools. Lead above the federally recommended threshold was found in facilities used by city and charter schools, data released by the city showed. The city began testing students for lead and installing filtration systems after the discovery.
Lead is a metal that was previously used in soldering joints for plumbing systems. It’s now prohibited, but many houses still have lead in their systems. Lead can have negative effects on the brain, kidneys and nervous system and is of particular risk to pregnant women and children.
Residents who suspect their water contains lead are advised to contact the Department of Water and Sewer Utilities at (973) 733-6303 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can arrange to have their water tested for lead and/or get a service line inspection for free, the city says.
For more information on how to protect yourself from lead poisoning, head to NewarkNJ.gov.