PRESS RELEASE FROM SENATOR CARLUCCI
On Tuesday, Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) joined Rockland BOCES COO Dr. Mary Jean Marsico and Health and Safety Division Director John Gulino, North Rockland Central School District Superintendent Ileana Eckert and South Orangetown School Superintendent Dr. Robert Pritchard to discuss the testing of lead contamination levels in school water.
Lead contamination in drinking water first gained national attention in Flint, Michigan, however this is a problem that reaches far beyond the disaster in Michigan, and threatens children’s health nationwide. Lead can enter drinking water when service pipes that contain lead corrode, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content that corrodes pipes and fixtures.
Studies show that lead poisoning is most detrimental to young children because they absorb lead faster than adults. High lead blood levels can damage a child’s cognitive abilities and cause brain damage. There is no way of reversing damage done by lead poisoning, which is why it is so dangerous and damaging to our students’ health.
BOCES has tested seven out of eight districts and the only Rockland County school district that has not been fully tested is East Ramapo. Since the samples must be taken while classes are in session in order to reflect normal usage patterns, BOCES will test East Ramapo during the first week of school in September, after classes resume.
Federal rules governing lead in drinking water provide guidelines for the testing of water for contamination. For schools, those guidelines are simply recommendations and are not mandatory. Incidents of lead contamination have been found within school buildings where the testing and remediation is left up to the school districts. There have been concerns raised statewide about aging infrastructure, and that is why legislation is needed to fix our monitoring and reporting system for lead in water supplies.
Most state and federal laws and regulations focus on the testing on the origin of where the water comes from, however not the environments where they spend the most time outside of their home, such as schools. There have been concerns raised statewide about aging infrastructure, and that is why legislation is needed to fix our monitoring and reporting system for lead in water supplies. Senator Carlucci and advocates have brought to light the importance of the legislation that has been introduced and passed in New York State to ensure the safety of the students in our schools.
“I thank Senator Carlucci and his colleagues in Albany for realizing that state funding must be attached to this legislation. Rockland BOCES and our component school districts are saddled with too many unfunded state mandates already. Adding another cost would have been disastrous. We look forward to Governor Cuomo’s signature on this bill, which will protect students and staff for years to come,” said Rockland BOCES Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Mary Jean Marsico.
“We fully support the legislation that was passed in the New York State Legislature and are thankful for Senator Carlucci and his associates for ensuring the safety of our students,” said South Orangetown School Superintendent, Dr. Robert Pritchard.
“I want to thank Senator Carlucci and the Governor for making sure this legislation moves forward. We want to continue to make sure that our students have every opportunity possible to succeed. Lead contamination in the water is something that can and should be prevented and the New York State Legislature is leading the way to make certain this issue is resolved,”said North Rockland Central School District Superintendent, Ileana Eckert.
“We are taking all precautions necessary to ensure accurate testing and that our public schools’ drinking water is safe for the students. Federal law and regulations focus testing on where the water source originates, however they don’t test the water after it travels through the actual path the water takes to get to drinking fountains and kitchens of our public schools. This is where the lead levels need to be tested and we will continue to work with districts on the water testing to completely eliminate lead contamination in schools,” said Health and Safety Division Director, John Gulino.
“Testing the water in school districts periodically is an absolute necessity, especially considering the findings that have come to light which started with Flint, Michigan. Considering the detrimental effects and irreversible damage lead has on our young students and the loose federal guidelines, I am proud to say that New York is leading the way for the rest of the nation to ensure the safety of our children and young adults in our schools by requiring testing water for lead contamination. I am confident that Governor Cuomo will sign the legislation into law and I will continue to advocate and work with my colleagues on legislation to ensure our schools’ water is tested in order to be sure that our students are safe,” said Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester).