Requests frequent updates and transparency regarding elevated lead levels in the school’s water
Following reports of elevated lead levels in the drinking water at P.S. 41 in the Bronx, Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a leading member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote to New York City officials urging transparency and frequent updates as the City addresses the issue.
Recent testing showed levels of lead that exceeded EPA limits. Though the City has promised swift action, questions remain regarding how the situation will be handled to best benefit those who live in the community.
“Reports of elevated lead levels in drinking water are always gravely concerning, but that concern is compounded when it’s happening in a school with young children,”Engel said. “We need to make sure everything that can be done to protect the health and well-being of those in the community is being done, including testing and remediation.”
Text of the letter to the City can be found below:
February 10, 2017
Dear Mayor de Blasio,
I write regarding reports of elevated lead levels at P.S. 41 in my Congressional District. Such reports are gravely concerning. Given the dangers associated with lead poisoning, I hope that we can work together to address this issue expeditiously and ensure New Yorkers’ safety.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead exposure can have particularly harmful effects on children and pregnant women.1 As such, reports of elevated lead levels in any public school are especially alarming. We must take every step possible to keep the P.S. 41 community informed and to facilitate the necessary health responses.
To that end, I pose the following questions on behalf of my constituents:
· I understand that every New York City public school is currently being tested for elevated lead levels, and I applaud the City for taking this critical step. It is vital that this testing be carried out quickly, and that results are immediately shared with New Yorkers who may have been exposed to lead. I ask that you additionally share a complete list of testing results with my office. When will this testing be complete? Will testing results be made public as soon as they are available?
· I understand that you have alerted the P.S. 41 community of lead’s health effects. According to the CDC, the best way to determine the level of lead in blood is via a blood test.2 Will the CDC’s recommendations be shared with students’ parents/guardians and P.S. 41 staff?
· What steps are being taken to ensure that every affected P.S. 41 student and employee is screened for elevated lead levels and, if necessary, treated for lead poisoning?
· I understand that affected water fixtures at P.S. 41 are being “remediated.” What exactly does this remediation entail? When are these activities expected to be complete?
As parents, there is nothing more important than the health and wellbeing of our children. It is absolutely essential that we keep the P.S. 41 community up-to-date on new developments, and that we do everything possible to connect them with the services they need.
As a Member of Congress, I am committed to working with you to share information with the P.S. 41 community, and to continue to work together to ensure that New York City has the resources and support necessary to keep every New Yorker – especially children – safe.
Thank you for your attention to this issue. I look forward to your prompt reply.
Ms. Carmen Fariña
Chancellor, New York City Department of Education
Dr. Mary Travis Bassett
Commissioner, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Mr. Vincent Sapienza,
Acting Commissioner, New York City Department of Environmental Protection
1 “Lead.” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/
2 “Childhood Lead Poisoning Data, Statistics, and Surveillance.” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/