NEW YORK (WABC) --Falsified records for New York City daycare centers tested for lead in the the drinking water. Now, a new report shows those tests never happened, and that means the kids and the day care staff could be at risk for lead poisoning.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer presented the findings of an audit on the City Department of Health.
"Our auditors found that the agency failed to ensure the water was tested for lead in nearly 60 percent of the daycares we sampled," said Stringer.
Stringer says that when auditors examined records of 119 centers, they found that lead test results were missing in 70 of those cases. Stringer says an email from a Department of Health Official directs staff to enter water lead tests into the system as negative, in order to issue permits.
Mayor DeBlasio's Deputy Press Secretary Aja-Worthy Davis released a statement Friday saying,
"Although a bureaucratic process made testing standards vague beginning 2011, to date, the Comptroller's report notes no child was ever harmed in large part due to the overwhelming rarity of lead-in-water illness. Under this administration in June, the Health Department moved to link testing to the permitting process to help protect kids. It is a blatant mischaracterization to claim the agency systematically falsified documents based on a five-year-old email."
"The records were inaccurate because agency management directly instructed staff to enter false information," Stringer added.
Of the 49 daycares included in the audit sample that were tested, Stringer said that more than ten percent had unacceptable levels of lead in the water.
"This is not a risk we should be willing to take," said the Comptroller.
One of those daycares was Sunnyside Community Services in Queens. The COO there tells Eyewitness News that steps have been taken to correct the situation.
In an exclusive interview, New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett responded to the audit.
"We acknowledge the comptroller's audit that shows some deficiencies in the system, but we now have results back on 97 percent of our childcare centers, and we know that about five percent of them had elevated lead levels and all of those have been corrected," said Bassett.
Bassett also adds that parents should not worry.
"What I would want to know as a parent is that we have never associated lead poisoning in a child with elevated lead levels in water," she noted.
The Department of Health will be making the lead levels at day cares public next month.