‘Slightly Elevated’ Lead, Copper Levels Found at One Princeton School

A sample of water from a sink in the staff room at the Johnson Park Elementary School in Princeton had slightly elevated lead and copper levels, and a second outdoor water fountain at the same school had slightly elevated copper levels, school officials said today.

The rest of the samples taken from Johnson Park and all of the district’s other schools were within acceptable levels.

According to Municipal Health Officer Jeff Grosser, the lead and copper levels were slightly over the maximum contaminant levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Grosser told school officials the issue could be resolved if the district installed new plumbing fixtures, and said water flowing into all of the Princeton Public Schools is annually tested by American Water, and is well within acceptable levels.

School district officials have shut down the water to the sink in the staff room and set up a water cooler to provide staff with a supply of clean water. The exterior fountain has also been turned off.

“We have already replaced the faucet in the staff room and are working now on fixing the exterior fountain,” Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane said in a statement today. “We will then retest at those locations to see if the contaminant levels are reduced.”

Cochrane said the district is also also taking the added precaution of replacing all of the faucets in the portion of the building built in 1959, which was build prior to a change in regulations regarding materials to be used in faucet construction.

“We are working closely with the municipal health officer, who supports the steps we are taking,” Cochrane said. “Once we have addressed the two identified areas of concern, we will retest those sites and share the results as soon as they are available.”

School districts across the state have been testing lead levels in response to reports of elevated levels of lead found in the water of some Newark schools last month.

New Jersey Analytical Labs conducted tests at all of the Princeton Public Schools during spring break and received the results on April 15.

Twenty-five samples were taken at Princeton High School, 20 were taken at John Witherspoon Middle School, and ten were taken at each of the four elementary schools.

The maximum contaminant levels set by the EPA are 15ug/L for lead and 1,300ug/L for copper. The testing indicated that the lead level for the sink in the Johnson Park staff room was 16.6ug/L and the copper level was 1,770ug/L. The copper level from the sample taken from the exterior fountain at Johnson Park was 1,520ug/L.