The city of Newark, N.J., will stop giving out free bottled water to most residents and instead switch back to giving free water filters to those who have lead in their drinking water.
Testing completed in September of more than 300 filters showed 97% reduced lead levels below 10 ppb, which is less than the federally mandated action level of 15 ppb.
The filters will be handed out while Newark continues to replace lead service lines that run to homes in the city, which is free of charge for residents, reported the city’s Lead Service Line Replacement Program website.
City officials had initially stopped giving out the filters after tests showed that they may not have been as effective at filtering out the lead. The new tests show that the filters are working just fine. Since October, the city has distributed roughly 40,000 filters, according to the city’s website.
“If they use the filter even without running the water for five minutes beforehand, it’s 97% effective. If they run the water five minutes before touching the filter to use it, the testing shows its 99% effective,” said Dr. Mark Wade with the Newark Department of Health to News 12 New Jersey.
Newark residents can get the filters and cartridges for free, as well as information about how to properly use the filter. The city hosted a “state of water” town hall and has held virtual information sessions about the crisis as well.
Despite these precautions, residents of Newark are still worried about lead exposure. As an added measure, the city will still give out free bottled water to pregnant women and families with children who are six years old and under.
"During those age periods that's when the brain is having its most rapid and dramatic development and that's when lead can have its major impact if lead is present,” Wade said.
Parents in the city should consider having their children tested for elevated lead levels. Lead exposure can cause learning disabilities and behavioral issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Information about where to pick up the water filters can be found on the city of Newark’s website.
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