Lead Tainted Tap Water Plagues Ridgewood and Maspeth

By David Brand

A new report by the city’s Independent Budget Office reveals that Ridgewood and Maspeth have the highest rate of tap water lead contamination of any neighborhood in Queens.

The report analyzed test data from 2006 through 2016 and found that the highest rates of tap water test levels exceeding the federal threshold were in community districts that included neighborhoods such as Ridgewood and Maspeth in Queens, Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, Co-Op City and Riverdale in the Bronx and South Beach in Staten Island.

Each of those areas had more than 6 percent of samples above the action level over the 2006-2016 period, the report stated.

Older buildings, especially those built in the 1920s, are especially likely to contain lead in the tap water.

“While the city meets federal and state regulations regarding lead in water, it is important to note that federal rules permit 10 percent of residential buildings in the Department of Environmental Protection’s annual compliance testing group to exceed the threshold for lead,” the report states. “There is no water lead standard for individual private residential buildings. In a city the size of New York, this means a substantial number of homes and families may be exposed to lead from their faucets.

Residents may request free lead test kits from the city by calling 311 or visiting the city website. The tests require residents to fill a special bottle with water from the tap after the tap has not been used for at least six hours. Residents then run the water for about two minutes and fill a second bottle. Both bottles are sealed, labeled and sent back to the city for analysis.

According to the Department of Environmental Protection, New York City water is “virtually lead-free when it is delivered from the City's upstate reservoir system, but water can absorb lead from solder, fixtures, and pipes found in the plumbing of some buildings or homes. It is possible that this can increase your potential for exposure.”