Health Department To Post Lead In Water Test Results For Day Care Centers On The City’s Comprehensive Child Care Portal, Child Care Connect

Action mirrors the Department of Education’s recent water test of every school in the five boroughs

Board of Health will consider proposal to increase frequency of water tests on childcare programs

 
June 23, 2016 – The Health Department today announced that it will post lead water test results for day care programs on Child Care Connect – the City’s directory of licensed day care programs that was launched last year to help parents make informed decisions about child care settings. This follows a proposal earlier this month to the Board of Health to require childcare operators to test for lead in water every five years – an upgrade from the current once-only requirement – matching the protocol recently adopted by City schools.
 
“The City’s tap water is of the highest quality, and not a source of lead poisoning, but we want every parent to be assured that our child care centers have tested for lead levels in water. We conducted a thorough review of the Department’s process to monitor the quality of water in the childcare programs that we permit and are making sure that all centers have proper testing documentation in place,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “The department requested that the Board of Health approve a provision that requires a lead in water test 30 days after a new permit is issued and every five years for existing programs. We anticipate the Board to approve this provision in September 2016. Test results for lead in water will be posted online in Child Care Connect.”

“New York City drinking water is of the highest quality, meeting or exceeding all state and federal standards. Our drinking water is virtually lead-free when it is delivered from the upstate reservoir system and tested over 500,000 times per year," said Acting Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Steve Lawitts.  “I commend the departments of Health and Education for posting lead testing results for childcare centers on Child Care Connect so that parents know their children are in safe environments with access to safe, healthy, delicious New York City drinking water.”

"We know the City water is high quality, but building pipes can leach lead into water. Requiring lead levels in the water at day care programs to be retested every five years is a smart move to protect the public's health,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health.

“When it comes to the safety and health of our kids, our City must take every precaution,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “By conducting these tests and posting the results publicly, the Department of Health is rewarding the confidence that parents put in us by providing transparency and vigilance. There is no room for error when it comes to lead testing, and we can never take anything for granted when the health of children is involved. I thank Commissioner Bassett and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for rigorously ensuring that we maintain the highest standards for our kids.”

“Although New York City's water is among the cleanest in the country, we must take every precaution to protect our City’s children,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of the Committee on General Welfare. “I applaud the Health Department for these proactive reforms that will help parents feel at ease knowing that their children’s day care center is safe and lead free.”

“The New York City Department of Health and sister agencies have done an excellent job of monitoring lead levels in the water supply of New York City child care centers and have intervened to protect kids when needed,” said Dr. Steve Markowitz, Professor of the Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment at Queens College. “This new initiative of adding transparency to the process is welcome so the public has ready access to data so they know that their young children are safe when they drink water or when water is otherwise used in drink or food preparation at these centers.”

Child Care Connect offers recent inspection reports and a three-year performance summary with information about daycare programs and staff, including staff turnover rate and the percentage of annual inspections with violations compared to the citywide average. Starting in July, Child Care Connect will also include lead water test results to inform parents about water quality at each facility.
 
Water is not a source of lead poisoning in New York City, and no child care center has ever been linked with a case of lead poisoning.  New York City’s water is of the highest quality – meeting or exceeding all federal and state standards. The City manages the watershed surrounding its reservoirs, and the Department of Environmental Protection tests water over 500,000 times each year at various points throughout the water distribution system. In addition, the City removed known lead service lines to schools and city buildings, and none have been found in a city-permitted child care center.

However, due to older internal plumbing and fixtures, lead test results may still be elevated. When that occurs, those sites must implement corrective measures to reduce lead levels. The Health Department’s corrective protocol is based on EPA guidance and involves regular flushing or fixture replacement. Flushing removes any built up lead in stagnant water.

The Health Department immediately investigates cases of lead poisoning reported to the city. Lead poisoning among children has fallen by 80 percent since 2012. Most commonly lead poisoning is related to deteriorated and damaged lead-based paint. Of the 840 cases of elevated blood lead levels found in children under six years of age who were tested in 2014 (most recent confirmed data), none were attributed to lead in water.

The Health Department licenses almost 2,300 child care facilities.

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Christopher Miller/Carolina Rodriguez (347) 396-4177, pressoffice@health.nyc.gov