Four years after Flint, Michigan’s water crisis caught the nation’s attention, it appears the citizens of another city are dealing with a similar unreal crisis. Newark, New Jersey officials promised residents that their water supply was fine for nearly a year and a half, but that wasn’t entirely true, The New York Times reports.
Experts agree that there is no safe level of lead exposure. Pregnant women and children are most at risk: Even low lead levels are associated with serious, irreversible damage to developing brains and nervous systems. Lead exposure is also linked to fertility issues, cardiovascular and kidney problems, cognitive dysfunction, and elevated blood pressure in otherwise healthy adults.
For nearly a year and a half, top officials in Newark denied that their water system had a widespread lead problem, despite ample evidence that the city was facing a public health crisis that had echoes of the one in Flint, Michiganhttps://t.co/SZ8rB26Iei
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 31, 2018
“The parallels to Flint are fairly clear,” Erik Olson, head of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said. “The city was denying a problem even though its own data was showing problems. Newark is not as extreme as Flint but still a serious problem.”
The NRDC’s website states, “The high lead levels are especially alarming because there has been long-standing concern about children’s exposure to toxic lead levels in Newark. For years, the city has had the greatest number of lead-poisoned children in New Jersey. This likely stems from a variety of exposures to lead, including from contaminated tap water and other sources. Indeed, 2016 tests revealed 30 public schools with elevated water lead levels.”
Mayor Ras Baraka said the problem comes from old water pipes found in some neighborhoods that leach lead into the drinking water.
“You have some homes that have no lead in their water at all, very little lead, and some homes that have elevated lead. Our job is [to] be prudent, is to have somebody do a study and figure out what actually is going on,” Baraka said.
“The city’s water coming out of the reservoir is safe,” said Newark Department of Water and Sewer Utilities assistant director Kareem Adeem. “The city’s water leaving the treatment plant is safe; the city’s water entering the city’s distribution system, the city’s water main, is safe. The only problem is when the city’s water enters into those lead lines.”
At the moment, it seems like everyone is passing the blame off to something or someone else. Like the people in Flint, the officials in Newark need to do better.