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Stringer: City Falsified Records On Water Testing For Lead At Daycare Centers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There were worries Friday evening about lead-contaminated water in New York City daycare centers.

As CBS2's Esha Ray reported, the concerns stems from a claim that inspectors faked test results at dozens of places where parents trust their children are safe.

The water at Little Star of Broome Street on the Lower East Side was never tested for lead from 2012 to 2014. But check city records during that time, and one would never know that.

"They gambled on the health of our children when they falsified their records," said city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Of the 119 daycare centers audited during those two years, Stringer said 70 actually were not tested. He claimed the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene faked results in order to keep more daycares open.

The department allegedly told inspectors to "enter water lead test negative," even if that was not the case.

"That's why my kids don't drink out of the water fountain," said parent Judith Deleon. "I always buy water from the store."

The Health Department did admit to "reporting issues," claiming that it had altered records to give daycares more time to submit lead tests.

The audit said: "The Health Department has addressed water test reporting issues that dated back to 2012. All child care centers have been tested for lead in water, and for parents' peace of mind we will soon post the status of each test online."

Stringer said that is a good step forward, but it is not enough.

"More has to be done to ensure that we are testing for lead at day care centers not every five years, but every year," Stringer said.

And parents agree – someone needs to be held accountable for the lies.

"We're taxpayers. We pay our money for this not to happen," said parent Eddie Garcia. "So who's responsible for this?"

Stringer would not take a position on whether the lead testing reporting issues constituted fraud, or whether someone should lose their job over it.

"Well that's up to City Hall to decide how they're going to fix that problem and deal with their supervisors," Stringer said. "I'm just stating the facts."

Since the audit, the city says 95 percent of its centers have been tested with no issues. That still leaves 5 percent with elevated lead levels.

The city said it will release the names of those places in July.

The Health Department also said water is not a source of lead poisoning in New York City, and claimed that young children are not at risk.

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