Newark halts free bottled water program; gives out filters instead
The city of Newark will stop giving out free bottled water to most residents and instead switch back to giving free water filters to those who have lead in their drinking water.
City officials had initially stopped giving out the filters after tests showed that they may not have been as effective at filtering out the lead. But new tests showed that the filters are working just fine.
“If they use the filter even without running the water for 5 minutes beforehand, it’s 97% effective. If they run the water five minutes before touching the filter to use it, the testing shows its 99% effective,” says Dr. Mark Wade with the Newark Department of Health.
Newark residents can get the filters and cartridges for free. Officials will even show those residents how to properly use the filter.
Some Newark parents say that they are worried about exposing their children to the lead.
FULL COVERAGE: Lead-contaminated water crisis
“I try to keep the kids from drinking the water, brushing their teeth with the water. I use a lot of water because I have a 13-year-old and a 12-year-old,” says mother Eval Nelson.
Newark will still give out free bottled water to pregnant women and families with children who are 6 years old and under. They say this will be done out of an abundance of caution.
"During those age periods that's when the brain is having its most rapid and dramatic development and that's when lead can have its major impact if lead is present,” says Wade.
The filters will be handed out while Newark continues to replace lead service lines that run to homes in the city. The city is replacing all lead lines, free of charge for residents.
The Newark health director says that all parents in the city should consider having their children tested for elevated lead levels. The director says that lead can also come from paint chips that may contain lead.
Information about where to pick up the water filters can be found on the city of Newark’s website.