Study: homes in CB5 have highest rates of lead in water
by Kelly Zegers
Oct 10, 2018 | 1599 views | 0 0 comments | 87 87 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When Julie Bizot and her husband renovated their Ridgewood home last year, they discovered that some of the main water piping likely hadn’t been replaced in the house since around 1910, when it was built.

The pipes, which disintegrated when removed, were full of lead, said Bizot, a stay-at-home mother. According to a study released by the city's Independent Budget Office last week, Ridgewood, Glendale and Maspeth have the highest rates of lead in tap water in the city

“The problem is the old houses,” Bizot said in an interview on September 25.

The results of the study didn’t come as a surprise to Bizot or to many other residents who live in or near Ridgewood's historic districts, where some of the brownstones were built more than 100 years ago.

“All the water pipes are old,” said Francis Gatto, 56, sitting on the porch of his home located in one of Ridgewood’s four historic districts. “These houses were built in like 1901. Some of them in the late 1800s.”

Gatto said recent lead tests at his home thankfully showed low lead levels. He changed some of the piping in his home, which he plans to put on the market in April when his wife retires, to copper during a recent renovation. It allowed him to avoid the costly move to replace main water lines.

“So that was good because otherwise it would cost me a fortune,” he said.

The study itself notes that smaller, older, homes, especially those built in the 1920s and 1930s, tend to have rates of lead above the federal threshold.

Ridgewood and the surrounding neighborhoods had more than 6 percent of households test above the Environmental Protection Agency’s action level, according to the study. But action is only mandated if more than 10 percent of tested homes are found to have 15 parts per billion lead concentration, the study noted.

High lead levels are a cause for concern for mothers Bizot and Natalia Gentile, 34, who rents in Ridgewood.

Gentile said she called 311 to order a test kit the day after the study came out, just to be safe. She always uses a filter for drinking water, but will consider using it more, because, as a renter, she can’t take on a pipe replacement project.

Since the study was released, 245 calls were made to 311 from residents in Community Board 5 requesting lead test kits, according to BoardStat.

According to the study, landlords are not required to notify tenants if a building has lead-containing solder, lead-containing fixtures or a lead service line. They also don’t have to inform tenants about water tests that come back above EPA action level.

The Independent Budget Office called this a “lack of transparency.”

"Any amount of lead found in the water is concerning to me, especially in the residential areas of my district noted in the study,” said Councilman Robert Holden’. “While the DEP is in compliance with federal lead regulations, it is possible for older buildings with lead service lines to have lead in the tap water.

“I encourage anyone who is concerned about having lead in their tap water to contact the DEP about receiving a free lead testing kit to make sure your water is safe, or call my office for more information," he added.
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