Tests indicate dangerous levels of lead in Newark water, bottled water available

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- New tests on the water in Newark indicate there are still dangerous levels of lead and residents are being urged to avoid drinking tap water.

The US Environmental Protection Agency says it's important residents in homes with old lead pipes use bottled water until there is a reliable solution.

Newark resident Tonya Thomas and many others showed up early Monday at the Boylan Street Recreation Center to pick up bottles of water, but were instead told to come back at three when it officially started. Her daughter has sickle cell.

"We're going to go get lead test done tomorrow and make sure she's good," Thomas said.

The EPA said filters distributed to Newark homes to protect residents from elevated levels of lead may not be working as intended.

"It's wrong, something should be done," Newark resident Vanessa Abron said. "This has been going on for a while, and they've been covering it up and no one is doing anything about it."

The city distributed water filters to 19,000 homes last fall and recently decided to conduct tests on the effectiveness of the filters.

Based on the results, Mayor Ras Baraka is now telling people in the Pequannock area with lead service lines to run their water for five minutes for maximum protection.

"I think it's important for us to determine what is actually going on before we make haste and do something," Baraka said, "That is why we tested the same houses more than once. Which is why we are here now, because we don't want to wait until that."

Baraka says the test covered a very small sample - just three homes.

"The danger's there, you know, whether or not (my kids) are exposed to the danger, the danger is there, in fact, and it's accessible," Newark resident Charles Cooper told Eyewitness News in October.

The solution is to replace those lead pipes leading to those homes, which is slowly happening, but removing them all could take up to eight years and cost $75 million.

"We may end up like Flint," Newark resident Barbara Simpkins said. "We're going through a lot. I hope not."

EPA officials called on the city and state to immediately develop a plan to provide alternative sources of water. Bottled water will be available to residents of the Pequannock area at the Health and Wellness Department and also at the Bo Porter Sports Complex. You can find more information on where to pick up bottled water HERE.

Anyone concerned about lead poisoning in their children can get their blood test. Talk to your health care provider or the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness at 973-733-5323.
CLICK HERE for more information about lead testing.

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