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Andrew D'Arcy
Andrew D'Arcy
Attorney • (609) 641-6200


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Elevated lead levels have been found in more samples from New Jersey’s largest school district, where officials shut off sinks and drinking fountains at 30 facilities last month.  According to the Associated Press, Newark schools released data last Thursday night showing that lead above the federally recommended threshold had been found in eight facilities used by city and charter schools.

Nearly 1,000 children were poisoned with lead last year in New Jersey, at levels that will shave an average of 7 points off their IQs and often cause behavioral problems as well.

In response to the elevated lead levels found in the water, three state lawmakers want to require bi-annual water testing in all of the state’s schools and provide up to $20 million to install water filters in certain school buildings.  The proposal, backed by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney and two Essex County lawmakers, would provide $3 million to reimburse schools for immediate water testing as well as mandatory tests conducted within 30 days of the start of the 2016-17 school year and again six months later.

According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, just a decade ago, few schools tested for lead and few states required the testing.  New Jersey does not currently require schools to test their water for lead, leaving each district to decide whether it wants to test and how often.

Yesterday, Governor Chris Christie announced $10 million for lead remediation and containment in New Jersey, doubling New Jersey’s current allocation for lead programs.  None of this new money will go towards lead remediation in schools.  The dollars are for a program that will test and remove lead paint from low to moderate income homes.  The Governor said “The primary lead concern in New Jersey has been and remains the outdated lead-based paint in our old housing stocks, not water stocks.”  He said he does not want the state to get over-involved in lead testing or remediation in schools because these problems lie with local school districts.  Regarding calls for the state to take over monitoring for lead in schools, the Governor suggested that might be premature.  His reasoning is that state constitution requires that anything the state mandates, the state must pay for.  However, Governor Christie is not ruling the idea out and said it is worthy of debate and discussion.