New York City began retesting water in all schools built before 1986 in the wake of the discovery of high levels of lead in the water in Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey, schools.
In older buildings, lead was used to solder connecting copper joints and can leach into the water, especially when water has been sitting stagnant in the pipes. Lead was banned in construction in 1986. In 2002, the Department of Education set up testing and flushing regimes, based on federal guidelines, in every school built before the 1986 ban.
Retesting was done in 2005 in those schools that had previously shown above-normal levels of lead. Remediation involved weekly flushing by the custodian at the beginning of each school week and after long holiday breaks. Between 2008 and 2010, the city Department of Environmental Protection replaced any known service lines going into schools that contained lead solder.
In the current round of testing by the city, any faucet or outlet in a school with elevated lead levels is being taken out of use, repaired and retested. UFT health and safety analysts have been reviewing about 70 to 80 test results a night from the DOE and city health inspectors.
The DOE has also instituted a new protocol: Schools that have shown elevated lead results in the past will be retested every two years; those with no sign of lead will be retested every five years.
The DOE has established a database where anyone can view the testing results.