May 28, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
Queens is likely to be the borough with the highest number of lead contaminated drinking fountains in its parks, according to the early stages of a study by the NYC Parks Department.
The Parks Dept. has identified and turned off at least 20 of the 559 drinking fountains it has tested in Queens parks this month. The fountains shut down had lead levels above the federal limit of 15 parts per billion (ppb).
The Parks Department immediately shuts down any fountain with levels above the federal limit until the levels have been corrected.
The drinking fountain in Queens with the highest levels of lead was found in the tennis courts of Fresh Meadow’s Cunningham Park at 339.20 ppb.
High levels were also found in four fountains in Forest Park in Woodhaven. Dry Harbor Playground in the park had 296 ppb, Oak Ridge had a fountain with 149 ppb, Victory Field contained 38.3 ppb, and Seuffert Bandshell had 33.3 ppb.
Other parks in Queens with concerningly high toxicity levels in their drinking fountains include Wayanda Park in Queens Village with 243.3 ppb, Astoria Park with 193 ppb, and Kissena Park in Flushing with 98.4 ppb.
Parks has tested the lead levels of 142 fountains in Brooklyn so far and shut down only one. Eighty fountains were tested in the Bronx with 2 shut down due to high lead levels. Results for all boroughs remain ongoing.
The study, which began on May 6 and remains ongoing, aims to test all 3,500-plus outdoor drinking fountains in New York City as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s LeadFreeNYC plan.
The plan, announced on Jan 28, 2019, aims to eliminate childhood lead exposure in New York City completely.
“The only acceptable number of children exposed to lead in our city is zero. That goal is within our reach,” said the Mayor in the report that reviewed city resources that could be used to prevent childhood lead poisoning in New York’s children.
Testing will be completed by mid-June and remediation will continue through the summer.