Bloomfield Residents Attend Forum on Lead Exposure Prevention
BLOOMFIELD, NJ -- Mayor Michael Venezia and the Township Council held a public forum last night in the Civic Center to discuss the findings of recent lead tests in Bloomfield’s water connection systems and individuals’ houses, as well as inform residents how they can reduce their risk of lead exposure. Township engineers and officials from the Health Department attended, and answered questions from residents.
The agenda focused on recent testing of Bloomfield’s water interconnections, tests of the homes of residents with older plumbing, the testing of Township-issued PUR water filters, and important information that residents need to know. Video of the forum, which was live streamed on Facebook, can be watched online here.
This public forum had been planned for over a month now, as the Township enters a new phase of an infrastructure project to update public water mains and meters, and follows an announcement that two lead-filters distributed by the City of Newark were not fully eliminating lead build-up. In the past week, Bloomfield has run expedited lab tests for residents with PUR filters given out by the Health Department, which confirmed these Township-issued filters were working as expected.
Bloomfield receives water from Newark at three interconnections sites: Garrabrant Ave., Grove St. and Bloomfield Ave. and Broad St. and Bloomfield Ave. All residents and businesses receive their water from one of these sites. Independent testing of the Township’s water at each of the three interconnection areas confirmed the water passes EPA guidelines for lead levels, meaning the issue is with the pipes through which water passes, particularly in older homes with plumbing fixtures that pre-dated 1986.
“At each location, results showed an undetectable amount of lead content,” said Township Administrator Matthew Watkins. “However, we owe it to our residents to provide them information and tools necessary to reduce lead levels in their homes. The Township is also spending millions of dollars to clean and re-line our water mains.”
A 2019 test of 69 Bloomfield homes found 11 had elevated levels of lead, and exceeded the purity standard or “action level” of 15 parts per billion (ppb) established by the EPA.
In addition to the water cleaning and lining project, the Township is replacing Service Line connections to homes that are found to contain lead. So far, 46 Service Line connections have been replaced. Additionally, the Township is building a new water pumping station on East and West Passaic Ave. to change water providers, moving to the Wanaque system run by North Jersey Water District.
“The water that the Township receives through our provider in Newark arrives to our water system with no detectable traces of lead, but some residents with homes that have plumbing that predates 1986 may have lead build up in their faucets and pipe fixtures, which is why we have been providing free lead test kits through the health department and trying to provide residents other educational resources,” said Mayor Michael Venezia.
Parents of young children should have their children tested for lead exposure. The Township is continuing to offer free lead tests to any residents concerned about potential lead build-up in faucets and plumbing fixtures of their homes. Residents can schedule a lead test or get additional information by calling 973-680-4024.