Water fountains throughout John F. Kennedy High School, School 5, and possibly other schools in the city, have been plastered with warning labels informing students not to drink out of them. The warning labels came after the Passaic Valley Water Commission found elevated levels of lead in drinking water, and issued letters to Paterson residents to avoid drinking tap water.
In its letter the commission provided tips: “Run water for 30 seconds to 2 minutes or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature before using it for drinking”, and “Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water”.
When we contacted a spokesperson for the Board of Education, she informed us that the lead issue is not limited to schools, but the schools are reacting to the commission’s findings.
Lead exposure is detrimental to normal development of children; according to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, a medical association, “Even when exposed to small amounts of lead levels, children may appear inattentive, hyperactive and irritable. Children with greater lead levels may also have problems with learning and reading, delayed growth and hearing loss. At high levels, lead can cause permanent brain damage and even death.”