Press Releases

Friday, May 03, 2019
No. 31

As Part Of Leadfreenyc, Nyc Parks Announces All Drinking Fountains Will Be Tested

City-wide lead testing to commence Monday, May 6

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, today announced NYC Parks will launch a new lead testing program for its more than 3,500 drinking fountains. Over the next seven weeks, all fountains will be tested. Any fountain found to have lead above the federal action level of 15ppb will be shut down immediately and repaired. This strategy was introduced along with over 40 other initiatives in January 2019 as part of LeadFreeNYC, the City’s aggressive plan to eliminate childhood lead exposure.

“The health and welfare of our City’s children is of the utmost importance,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “The Mayor’s LeadFreeNYC program ensures that our children are safe whether they are at home, at school, or in our parks; and we are doing our part by testing all of our drinking fountains and putting a plan in place for annual testing, so that our water remains safe.”

Drinking water from parks fountains is not a known source of elevated blood lead levels in children, but this testing program will ensure no stone is left unturned as we protect the health and safety of our kids.

“As the weather warms up, water fountains in our parks are a safe way to beat the heat and prevent dehydration,” said Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot. “This testing program will ensure that we leave no stone unturned in our citywide efforts to eliminate childhood lead exposure.”

New York City’s water supply is safe and delivered virtually lead-free. Our water is tested over 600,000 times each year at various points throughout the system. However, other infrastructure – like water service lines and internal plumbing and fixtures – may contain lead that can cause elevated lead levels in water from a tap. To protect against this, the City continuously monitors the pH of the water supply to maintain a level that is as minimally corrosive as possible and adds food grade phosphoric acid, a substance that forms a protective lining on the interior of the pipes.

Senator José M. Serrano: "Today New York City is taking an important step in the fight to eliminate childhood lead exposure. As Chair of the Senate Committee overseeing parks, I know that our parks and playgrounds serve as safe havens that contribute to the physical and mental health of all who enjoy them. The LeadFreeNYC drinking fountain testing program will provide transparency, additional peace of mind and reassurance for New York's families that we are doing everything we can to protect those most vulnerable to the dangers of lead - our children. I commend Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Silver for their commitment to keeping our parks safe for the youngest New Yorkers."

Council Member Joe Borelli: “This is great news for Staten Island and the south shore in particular, where so many of our parks are located. I am glad the Parks Department is taking the initiative and working with us to ensure that the water fountains in our community are clean and safe to use.”

Council Member Robert F. Holden (CD30): “I applaud the efforts of the administration in testing parks’ water fountains citywide. No amount of lead is safe for our children and our adults.” Council Member Holden (D-Queens) said. “Pinpointing problematic fountains and subsequently shutting them down and repairing them is a great initiative that has my full support,” he added.

Richmond County District Attorney Michael McMahon: “As residents of the “Borough of Parks”, Staten Islanders are blessed with access to a wide variety of open, green space right at their doorstep. While our job in law enforcement is to ensure the safety of Staten Islanders everywhere, including our parks, I commend NYC Parks for their proactive approach to ensure the safety of our drinking water throughout the five boroughs.”

State Senator Robert Jackson: "I am encouraged to hear that NYC Parks will test drinking fountains for lead this summer. This is the kind of proactive stance we need to take if we want to protect our children from lead exposure. I'm grateful to all the parent advocates who have raised the alarm over persistent sources of lead in schools and homes over the past several years. NYC Parks and the whole LeadFreeNYC initiative really have risen to the occasion here and I look forward to the news that our Parks drinking fountains are all lead-free in the coming months."

“Lead testing for all drinking fountains in city parks will ensure that New Yorkers and tourists alike have access to clean, safe drinking water when they visit city parks,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik, chair of the City Council Committee on Parks and Recreation. “I thank the parks department for its diligent attention to safeguarding public health.”

City-wide testing will begin this Monday, May 6. Following the testing of every fountain this spring, Parks will conduct quality control tests on 20 percent of drinking fountains annually.

New Yorkers will be able to track the drinking fountain testing on an interactive map, starting mid-May. The map will show the status of each fountain—those awaiting testing, those that have been tested, results of the tests and those closed for remediation. Parks will update the map weekly.

Parks has contracted Woodard and Curran, an integrated environmental engineering, science, and operations company with 40 years of experience serving clients locally and nationwide, to execute the overall process. Alpha Analytical and Pace Analytical, independent testing facilities accredited by State and Federal regulators, will test all samples. In December 2018, Parks tested a small sample of fountains to inform its planning and execution for this city-wide effort.

Testing will start in Queens and expand into the other boroughs on a rolling schedule, and will be completed in seven weeks. Fountains will be closed 8 to 18 hours prior to testing. Testing will include two samples: a “first draw,” and a second flush sample, done back-to-back. Any fountain found to have lead above the federal action level of 15ppb will be closed to the public, remediation and tested to confirm that it meets the federal standard.

Lead-based paint is by far the main source of lead exposure in New York City. Since 2005, there has been a nearly 90 percent decrease in the number of New York City children with lead exposure. This testing initiative is part of LeadFreeNYC, the City’s roadmap to eradicate childhood lead exposure. LeadFreeNYC’s approach is twofold: prevent exposure to lead hazards in the first place, and respond quickly and comprehensively if a child has an elevated blood lead level. To protect New York City kids, the City will increase resources and support for children, parents, and healthcare providers.

For more information on NYC Parks testing program please visit


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