Frequently Asked Questions

What is lead?

Lead is a metal found in nature that has been widely used over the years in gasoline, house paint, and plumbing fixtures. The amount of lead released into the environment each year has decreased steadily since the 1970s, when its negative effects on human health were discovered and its use regulated. Still, lead can be a problem for communities across the country, including some schools in Camden, where water pipes were fitted before the 1970s, and have not been replaced.

Why is lead a concern?

Lead can enter people's bodies in the food they eat, the air they breathe, and the water they drink. A person is exposed to lead whenever it enters their body, not by skin contact like washing hands. Too much lead in the human body can cause serious damage to the brain, nervous system, and red blood cells. Pregnant women and young children are at the greatest risk even when their exposure is to low levels of lead for short periods of time. Young children between the ages of six months and six years are more likely to suffer health problems from lead exposure.

What is lead poisoning?

Too much exposure to lead can result in lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can slow a child's physical growth and mental development and can cause behavior problems. Consistent exposure to high levels of lead can cause mental retardation, kidney and liver damage, blindness, and even death. Read more about lead poisoning and how to prevent it here.

Can my child safely wash their hands in water with elevated levels of lead?

Yes, it is safe. There is no risk of exposure to lead through skin contact.

What level of lead is unsafe for drinking water?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set the maximum allowable concentration of lead in public drinking water at 15 μg/L.

What are the results of the District’s test of all 1,400 working water sources?

Click here for the results of 1,400 water sources tested in District schools and office buildings in Winter 2017. As a summary, out of a review of approximately 1,400 water sources, two sources used for drinking came back with elevated levels: one at Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) and one at Thomas H. Dudley Family School. Other sources, like sinks in science labs and sinks used for washing hands, came back with elevated levels, but interacting with lead in this way is not considered dangerous.

Should I get my child tested for lead poisoning?

The District is making free, optional testing available to students at ECDC and Dudley who were recently in the classrooms impacted at those schools. If your student recently attended one of those two schools, call the Solutions Center at 856-966-2507.

If your student attends another school, visit The State of New Jersey’s Childhood Lead Taskforce to learn more about whether your child should be tested for lead poisoning and where you can get the testing done.

What is the District doing with the two water sources at ECDC and Dudley?

The water sources at ECDC and Dudley are both a combination hand-washing sink and water fountain known as a bubbler. The bubblers are now turned off, and they will be converted in to a sink with no water fountain. Students have had and will continue to have access to water coolers throughout the school.

What will the District do to keep students safe now that the results are in?

The District has already turned off every drinking fountain in every District building, and provides water coolers for students and staff. This fall, as an extra precaution, the District began using water coolers for food preparation in our kitchens. Now that the results for water in the kitchens have come back with no elevated levels, food preparation staff will resume using the water.

The water sources in your child’s school are safe for hand washing, clean ups, gardening, or any other time when water makes contact with skin. The drinking water in your child’s school is safe because it comes from water coolers.

Students and staff should continue to follow the “Do Not Drink” warning signs (with pictures) that are posted above sinks in classrooms, bathrooms, and offices.

What can I do to make sure the drinking water in my home is safe?

Visit The State of New Jersey’s Childhood Lead Taskforce to learn more about lead poisoning and how to keep your family safe.

Should I test my water system at home?

Visit The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Drinking WaterWatch website to check drinking water information about the water sources in your home. If you have any questions, contact the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water at 609-292-5550 or click here.


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