The Flint scandal, which involved officials taking cost-cutting measures that resulted in the contamination of the city’s drinking water and criminal charges against 13 current and former government officials is now taking on new meaning for families in Brooklyn, New York.
The city Department of Education (DOE) records show that a recent test revealed a heart pounding lead concentration level of 15,000 parts per billion (ppb) in the water being ingested by students at PS 289 George V. Brower in Crown Heights. This is 3x higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deems as “hazardous waste” water. As a scientist who helped bring the Flint Crisis to national awareness points out any child who drank from the Brooklyn school fountain faces “an acute health risk” as the highest level of lead recorded in Flint was 13,200 ppb.
It is not immediately clear how many children and adults drank the contaminated water or for how long the water has been lead-laden. A custodian at the school, built in 1958, said “Do you think that lead just here? This goes way back.” In September 2016, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law requiring school districts to conduct periodic testing for lead contamination.
PS 289 students and parents are naturally concerned and even outraged that they did not receive any notification from the school regarding the situation.
Lead exposure and poisoning can lead to learning disabilities in children and serious health conditions in adults.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s first deputy commissioner downplayed any dangers involving the drinking fountains found in PS 289. He added there the city has no plans to test any children who drank from the school’s fountains.
After the devastation seen in the developmental issues many of Flint’s children’s are facing after lead exposure, some PS 289 parents are taking no chances and are going to the doctor to have their children tested.