ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Patients, visitors and workers at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, New Jersey have are under a major warning about high lead levels in the tap water.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, signs in the cafeteria at the hospital read, “Coffee made with bottled tap water,” and notices in the bathroom alert people not to drink the tap water.
This came after the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection found high levels of lead in the system.
When asked if it worried her, one hospital worker said, “Yes, a little bit.”
Patient Nicole McIntell said she is also concerned.
“Yes, I told the doctor that I see, and she is well aware of that,” she said.
McIntell questioned how long lead levels have been a problem.
“We all have to be careful,” she said.
NJDEP said samples were taken on Dec. 21, and the results came back Jan. 12. The highest level registered was 1,206 parts per billion, while the federal government’s action level for lead in drinking water is 15 parts per billion.
“No, I will not drink the water,” said Tom Cummings, who was visiting a friend at the hospital.
Cummings brought coffee and food from the outside just to be safe.
Medical center representatives declined to go on camera. But they said the hospital has its own well water system, but recently switched its water source to the city’s water system supplied by SUEZ.
“I’m wondering if anyone has tested the water in town,” said Ben Ruben of Englewood.
The answer to the question is yes – the city and SUEZ Water confirm that there is not a problem with the source water, and the town is clear.
The issue is an internal one at the hospital.
The DEP said the lead could be leaching into the water from the hospital’s own pipes and faucets. They cannot estimate how long it will take to fix.
The New Jersey Department of Health said the water is considered safe for showering, bathing and washing hands. The hospital did not have an answer.
The hospital has set up a hotline for patients with concerns. Long-term exposure to lead can affect the nervous system, as well as cause weakness in fingers, wrists and ankles. It also can raise blood pressure and cause anemia.
Exposure to high levels can severely damage the brain and kidneys and ultimately cause death. In pregnant women, high levels of exposure may cause miscarriage.