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New Evidence Suggests Concern About Potential Lead In Newark Schools Water Nearly 2 Years Ago

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- There is new evidence that suggests there was a concern about potential lead in the water in Newark nearly two years ago. This comes after dangerous levels of lead were found at 30 public schools last week.

WLNY's Jericka Duncan reports a memo from the district sent on Aug. 30, 2014 mandated all schools run and flush each water fountain for two minutes daily before school opens. The same steps applied for the cafeteria faucets prior to food preparation usage.

Principals were also instructed to tell students and staff to run fountains for at least 30 seconds before drinking the water.

Last Wednesday, the Newark School District turned off water at 30 schools after test results revealed unsafe lead levels.

"I send my son to school every day to be safe," Ivelisse Mincey said. "This is his safe haven. And then there's lead in his water?"

At Bard High School, one lead water sample had 558 parts per billion; Branch Brook Elementary had 194 parts per billion; and Wilson Avenue Elementary tested at 193. Lead in drinking water should not exceed 15 parts per billion.

"I mean I never thought the water was good in Newark anyways, but that's alarming," parent Sabrina Oliver said.

Health officials said it's not Newark's water that's the problem. It's when lead from old pipes and fixtures leach into the water – similar to what happened in Flint, Michigan.

Too much lead can damage the nervous system and young children are most at risk.

Beginning this week, the Environmental Protection Agency will help with a new round of lead testing at all 67 schools in Newark.

The Newark Health Clinic is offering free lead testing for students.

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