No More Arsenic Found in NYCHA Water But Frustrations, Testing Continue

Riis Houses residents are still advised to not drink or cook with the water in their building

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For more than a week, residents at one of New York City's largest public housing complexes drank, bath and cooked with water that may have contained dangerous levels of arsenic — and as testing continued Monday, residents were still left without clean water in their own homes.

The latest round of tests showed no arsenic in the water supply of the Jacob Riis Houses in the East Village. Some tenants are reassured by the results, but others remain on edge while the Housing Authority conducts more tests on over 100 samples.

"Since Saturday, NYC DEP and @NYCHA have conducted additional, more precise testing at both the source and where water is delivered to Riis Houses apartments, and everything previously thought to be positive for arsenic has, so far, now tested negative," NYC Mayor Press Secretary Fabien Levy said in a tweet on Labor Day.

Levy added that Riis Houses residents are still advised to not drink or cook with the water in their building.

Tenants of Riis Houses had been reporting cloudy water for weeks. (Courtesy: Dennis Diaz)

THE CITY first reported on the traces of arsenic last week, and the major concern was that residents weren't immediately notified.

"We have to clean our food. We have to brush our teeth — it’s been a long time that the water been foggy," tenant BB Baskin told NBC New York. Baskin is among more than 3,700 residents in 19 buildings at Riis Houses who have been told to not use their water.

Late Friday, NYCHA began distributing bottled water at the housing complex and the Department of Environmental Protection has since set up a dozen water faucets on Avenue D, as well as another faucet attached to a fire hydrant, for residents to access clean water. The short-term solution, however, isn't accessible to every tenant.

Veronica Rodriguez on Monday checked in on her 73-year-old mother, a tenant of Riis, to make sure she understands that she still can't drink from the water inside her apartment.

"They knocked on her door. I came down to help her because they said to get water downstairs, but she can't get it up herself," Rodriguez said.

Arsenic is found in the water, soil and air, with amounts varying by location, but it's concerning when found in drinking water. It can cause lung and skin cancers, among others.

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