Bay Ridge

City Council candidate calls for state review of lead in school drinking water

May 16, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
City Council Candidate Ede Fox says lead contamination in school drinking water poses a great risk to children. Photo courtesy of Ede Fox

Ede Fox Demands Accountability from City in School Lead Crisis

Ede Fox, who is challenging incumbent Laurie Cumbo for the District 35 City Council seat, has called for a state review of lead in New York City public school drinking water. Fox is a community advocate who lost to Cumbo in the 2013 Democratic Primary.

Responding to growing concern from parents over these elevated lead levels, including one central Brooklyn school with recent test results exceeding those in Flint, Michigan, Fox has launched a petition calling on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to intervene and conduct an investigation into the crisis. Fox believes that the city agencies have downplayed the hazards posed to area students.

On March 2, the Brooklyn Eagle featured a detailed examination of this issue, and about Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams joining other borough presidents in addressing a letter to NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, urging the Department of Education to take action on this matter.

The article listed borough schools that were found to have elevated levels of lead in one or more of their fixtures including P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights, P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill, Automotive High School in Bedford Stuyvesant, P.S. 372 The Children’s School in Carroll Gardens, George Westinghouse High School in Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn Latin School in Williamsburg and Brooklyn Tech High School in Fort Greene.  Additionally, I.S. 259 McKinley High School in Dyker Heights and P.S. 289 in Crown Heights have been found to have a excessive levels of lead in their drinking water.

“Lead contamination poses too great a risk to our children to wait and see if they were affected by this recent exposure in city schools,” said Fox. “It’s time the state step in and conduct a thorough investigation of this growing crisis and prevent the kind of irreversible harm children in Flint and other cities have faced. This will help put parents’ minds at ease and ensure the health and safety of our single greatest resource — our children.”

Fox’s request comes amid growing concern after testing conducted between December and February showed as many as one in 20 taps in city elementary schools with elevated lead levels. This includes a classroom at P.S. 289 George V. Brower that showed lead levels reaching as high as 15,000 parts per billion, more than 1,000 times the amount permitted by federal regulators and more than levels found during the recent crisis in Flint, Michigan.

“I am outraged that the city would allow our children at P.S. 289 to drink water with lead levels thousands of times greater than permitted,” said Fox. “As we saw in Flint, this is a crisis that has disproportionately affected communities of color. A whole generation of kids in that community will not live up to their fullest capacity because of the impact of lead in their bodies.

“We don’t yet know how many Brooklyn children were exposed to lead and for how long, but it’s unconscionable that there are kids who were put at risk because no one thought their school was good enough to be concerned about their water supply. It’s time the city value their health and safety as much as we here in the community do,” added Fox.

District 35 includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Also running for the City Council seat are Democrat Greg Schwartz and Green Party candidate Jabari Brisport.


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