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Water Fountain With Excess Copper Leaves Staten Island Student Sick

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A student at a New York City elementary school got sick after drinking water from one of the school's fountains, and elevated levels of copper were found in the water.

As CBS2's Elise Finch reported, some parents were left with concerns about their children's safety.

It was playtime as usual on Tuesday for at P.S. 19 The Curtis School, at 780 Post Ave. in the Port Richmond section of Staten Island.

But some parents were worried about the water their children would drink when playtime was over.

"It makes me nervous. That's why I never let them drink water from here," said parent Anna Panicker. "I give them my own water. They take water from the water bottle, which I give them. I never make them drink water from here. It's very old. It doesn't look safe."

On Friday afternoon, a student got sick after drinking water from one of the school's fountains. The water was described as discolored and bad tasting.

The culprit was elevated levels of copper.

It turned out that the water fountain with the excess copper was also one of five that had elevated levels of lead when tested in the spring. All five fountains were replaced over the summer, and water to those fountains was supposed to be turned off and kept off until remediation and retesting were complete.

Apparently, that didn't happen, according to the Department of Education.

It is believed that the copper from the plumbing pipes seemed into the water because it was sitting stagnant in the pipes.

A DOE representative said the incident was isolated, and the department is making sure the water is safe to drink.

"I always tell my son -- I send him with a bottle of water every day, (and say), 'Don't drink the water from the school,'" said parent Rosalid Nieves.

"I'm not that worried, because they addressed it immediately," said parent Adriana Velazquez. "It was an oversight. People unfortunately do make mistakes."

"I trust them in the school," said one father. "The management - they do a great job in here."

According to the DOE, test results showed the level of copper does not pose a health hazard. But the fountain from the Friday incident is out of service and will remain so until copper levels are brought down.

The custodial staff at P.S. 19 has also been instructed to flush the water systems before school each Monday morning. That will hopefully eliminate water that has been stagnant in pipes over the weekend.

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