U. Responds to Concerns About Lead in Campus Waterand Myrial Holbrook | May 1, 2016
The University has not yet found elevated levels of lead concentration in drinking water on campus, according to University Media Specialist Min Pullan.
Concerns about lead concentration in campus drinking water surfaced in April whenreportsemerged that elementary schools in the area had water supplies that contained higher concentrations of lead.
Princeton Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser explained that Johnson Park elementary school, in particular, had drinking water that tested above the EPA maximum contaminant level for copper. Additionally, two further water sources — both outdoor water fountains close to the school — had exceeded the EPA maximum contaminant level for copper and lead, respectively.
According to Pullan, the University’s water is provided by New Jersey American Water, an investor owned water utility company. The University has not received any notification from the corporation that the concentration of lead in water provided to campus exceeds the Environmental Protection Agency Action Limit, Pullan said.
Pullan further noted that the University has typically tested for lead content in water when requested by parents or guardians of children less than six years old, or when recommended by a child’s pediatrician.
“None have found elevated levels of lead in water; however, we will continue to prioritize these requests,” she said.
Environmental Health and Safety recently collected water samples from the U-NOW and U-League daycare centers and is awaiting results, according to Pullan.
In an article published by Vox, however, parts of the University, including Firestone Library and Mathey-Rockefeller residential colleges, scored an 8 out of 10 in lead risk for drinking water. Much of Flint, Mich., scored a 10.
Grosser said that he can’t comment specifically about the University’s water quality.
“I can speak to the fact that [the University] was ranked high just because you have older buildings, older structures, which is going to up the probability that there would be lead because of the way lead was used in the past, including lead piping, different fixtures, and, obviously in paint,” he said.
He noted, however, that University Facilities staff, similarly to the Princeton public school district facility team, change out many older fixtures when reconstruction occurs.
“[The University is] a well-respected and well-maintained property, so typically when you have those two things, you don’t see as much of an issue with respect to lead because it’s been changed out over the years,” he said.
According to Grosser, Johnson Park Elementary School had changed out the aged faucet that released water with higher lead levels. Additionally, the water fountain on a pavilion outside the school building was shut off.
“Even though the water faucet had been changed out, the water at both of those areas will be shut down until further testing, and until they’re in compliance,” Grosser said.
According to Pullan, the University has hired a consultant to work with Environmental Health and Safety to develop a plan to study drinking water on campus. Water samples will be collected from representative areas on campus, including the residential units and water filling stations, and analyzed for lead content, she said.
Doria Johnson, director of University Housing, deferred comment to Pullan.