Monday, June 12, 2017


The school district today revealed that nine sources of water, several at Maplewood Middle School and the South Mountain school and annex, had lead levels above the acceptable amounts.

The revelation in a letter to parents today noted that the high level amounts were found in locations at five schools and the concession area of Underhill Field. See the entire results HERE.

See the letter sent to parents below:

Dear SOMSD Community,
SOMSD is committed to protecting student, teacher, and staff health. To protect our community and be in compliance with the Department of Education regulations and technical guidance developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, SOMSD identified and tested all drinking water and food preparation outlets.  Of the 223 samples taken, all but 9 tested below the lead action level established by the US Environmental Protection Agency for lead in drinking water (15 µg/l [ppb]).

The table below identifies the drinking water outlets that tested above the 15 µg/l for lead, the actual lead level.

School Location First Draw Result in µg/l (ppb)
Seth Boyden Hallway by Room 105 444 ppb
South Mountain Room 3 17.2 ppb
South Mountain Annex Hallway by Room 103 28.5 ppb
South Mountain Annex In room 103 30.3 ppb
Tuscan Room 22 46.1 ppb
Maplewood Middle Girls Locker Room 18 ppb
Maplewood Middle Kitchen 16.7 ppb
Maplewood Middle Teacher Lounge 46.8 ppb
Underhill Field Concession Stand 15.3 ppb
Remedial Action:
In accordance with the Department of Education regulations, SOMSD implemented immediate remedial measures for any drinking water outlet with a result greater than the action level of 15 µg/l (parts per billion [ppb]).  As soon as we received the results, the facilities department pulled these 9 water sources offline, covered them, and labeled them as unsafe to drink.  No one should attempt to use or reconnect these water sources.  We have bottled water available at the affected schools.
These water sources will be replaced and/or equipped with a filtering system and retested before additional use is permitted. 

Last year, lead testing was completed and all areas met safety standards. These results were posted on the district website:

We recognize that families and staff at the affected schools will have questions.  Information from the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Water Supply and Geoscience is attached.  We are meeting today with the South Orange Health Officer, since South Orange recently experienced a water issue, and with the Maplewood Health Officer.  We will share any additional information that becomes available.  In the meantime, if you have health concerns about the lead testing, we encourage you to consult with your doctor. 
Dr. John J. Ramos, Sr.

The surprise report comes a year after the district declared all school water safe following a round of testing that turned up just one water fountain, in Clinton School, to have lead levels above the safety limits.

That previous testing was done in reaction to the water lead problems raised last year in Flint, Michigan, and in nearby Newark Schools. That testing cost the district $12,000. Those findings can be found HERE.

Today's letter also included information on lead dangers and testing, which can be found HERE.

It is unclear why those sources were found to be acceptable a year ago and now show problems. We will follow up with details as they are available.  

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