An environmental crisis has consumed Newark, New Jersey. Over the past year, at least 10% of nearly 300 water samples tested, showed lead contamination. The level of lead, found in water, must comply with the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. According to state records, the water samples showed the lead levels at 26.7 parts per billion; almost 100 percent greater than the federal action level.
Like any major crises, people look for one answer, who is to blame? City and state officials have been in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act for several reasons
- Failing to treat water – allowing lead to seep off the pipes and into the residents drinking water
- Notifying residents about the elevated levels of lead and the possible health risks
The Safe Drinking Water Act
Let’s start from the beginning, what is the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)?
Defined by the EPA, “the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the federal law that protects public drinking water supplies throughout the nation. Under the SDWA, EPA sets standards for drinking water quality and with its partners implements various technical and financial programs to ensure drinking water safety.”
The Parallels of Flint and Newark
The similarities between Flint and Newark, are quite easy to see.
- Predominantly black communities
- High levels of poverty
- City officials denying a problem – even with data to support the claims
City officials have fought back, saying that ‘”NEWARK’S WATER IS ABSOLUTELY SAFE TO DRINK”‘. However, after a recent engineering study was released stating that two Newark treatment plants were in violation of the SDWA, the city finally decided to act. While Flint is a more extreme case than Newark, the problem is still demanding attention. City officials proceeded to give away filters and bottled water, to it’s residents. The next question, is this enough?
City Officials vs. The Residents
While officials have finally started to act, they have lost the trust and support of Newark community, leading many to wonder if they care about their health and safety.
Claire Wood, from the National Resources Defense Councel stated that ‘”although water coming from the treatment plant may not have lead in it, the water arriving in residents’ taps, coming out of residents’ faucets, has lead in it. So the claim that Newark’s water is pure or safe is misleading”‘.
It is not just about misleading the residents, Wood also explained that the city refused to answer inquiries in regards to the water, and continued to say that the water was safe. Wood stated that ‘”the city has been slow to act and quick to provide evasive nonanswers, all while repeatedly assuring the public the water is safe to drink.'”
Tern to the Future:
Newark officials have denied their residents the one basic tool they need to go about their daily lives, and that is knowledge. Newark residents continued to consume lead, from their drinking water; thus increasing the risk of major health issues.
Highest Risk: Pregnant women and children. Any level of exposure, even levels that seem particularly low, can cause irreversible damage to brain development, the nervous systems, fertility, the cardiovascular system, blood pressure and kidneys.
Health concerns, from lead, are not a new topic of conversation for children in Newark. The NRDC has been monitoring the lead levels closely, since 2016. According to their research, they found that Newark has the highest level, of children exposed to lead, in the state of New Jersey, and that roughly 30 public schools had elevated levels of lead.
One of the major problems, with the city officials in Newark, was that they did not provide the knowledge, the residents needed to have safe drinking water. Once they finally admitted there was a problem, entire communities had already been affected by the lead epidemic. A filter was no longer enough.
Tern was founded on one mission; empower people to obtain the best water possible, by providing them with the information and tools needed, to ensure they have sustainable and safe water, wherever and whenever they would like.
The Smart Faucet is the world’s first home water filter. It allows for you and your family to have safe and sustainable water all the time. For residents of Newark, the smart faucet can be added to their homes, with no hassle, and can help prevent and future risks that can occur with their drinking water.