Lead Water Poisoning Crisis Erupts in Newark, New Jersey


Bottled water distributions begin as lead water poisoning crisis erupts in Newark, New Jersey.

Just wait until they find out the bottled water is contaminated too.

Bottled water distributions begin as lead water poisoning crisis erupts in Newark, New Jersey
Bottled water distributions begin as lead water poisoning crisis erupts in Newark, New Jersey. Picture: Weather.com

You can read the full article at WSWS or below:

The public health crisis in New Jersey’s largest city continues to escalate, as tests last week once again showed that Newark residents remain exposed to high levels of lead in drinking water, even with filters distributed at the end of 2018 under a program ostensibly aimed at reducing exposure to the neurotoxin.

On Monday, the city began handing out bottled water to residents at four locations for those living in the affected areas of Newark. Anger mounted as some residents were turned away, declared ineligible or given the dubious filters rather than clean bottled water. Others left in frustration, unwilling to wait in hours-long lines.

“The water problem in Newark is getting real bad, almost like Flint, Michigan,” Newark resident Faith Davis told CBS2 News while in line for water Monday. “Something should’ve been done a long time ago and they should’ve let us know.” City officials knew that high levels of lead had been detected in drinking fountains at public school buildings as early as 2010 and discovered elevated lead levels after citywide testing of home taps began in 2017.

Indeed, many of the experiences in Flint, the most notorious example of government officials criminally conspiring to allow poisoned water to be sold to residents, are being repeated in Newark. Even five years after the crisisbegan in that city, Flint residents are still fighting for clean water.

Newark, like Flint, Michigan, has seen decades of disinvestment as its industrial base was gutted. Today it is one of the poorest big cities in the country. An estimated 37 percent of Newark families with children live below the poverty line. Poverty, together with an aging housing stock, are key indicators of lead exposure. These factors are also associated with higher rates of other environmentally triggered health problems like asthma, which is endemic in Newark.

Blood tests verify that a large percentage of children in Newark have been exposed to lead. Even small amounts in the bloodstream can cause lasting damage, especially in young children whose brain development can be impaired. Around a quarter of children under six in the city test positive for potentially harmful levels of blood lead.

The crisis in Newark emerged nearly a decade ago when tests revealed lead-laced drinking water in Newark Public School buildings at alarming levels. Authorities traced the source of the heavy metal to corrosion in the citywide network of transmission pipes, some of which date back to the 1880s, combined with failures to control the problem through chemical treatments at the Pequannock Water Treatment Plant. Tens of thousands of homes in Newark and neighboring communities receive their water from the Pequannock system.

Throughout the most recent period, Newark’s Democratic mayor Ras Baraka and New Jersey’s governor Phil Murphy have sought to downplay and cover up the extent of the crisis. The city initially refused to release information about the extent of the danger. It was not until last October that Newark, amid a lawsuit by the environmental group National Resources Defense Council and Newark Education Workers Caucus, began distributing filters to affected residents.

The more I read about it, the more I feel like it was intentionally.

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