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September 01, 2016

Rowan University tells students 'Do Not Drink' water from campus faucets

Elevated lead levels found in residence halls across campus

Officials at Rowan University have advised all students to avoid drinking water from several buildings on its Glassboro campus after investigating multiple reports of discoloration in their fluids.

In a letter published Thursday by Rowan President Ali A. Houshmand, the university said the results of testing show elevated iron levels in the water. 

The university first learned of the problem after receiving reports of discolored water at Linden Hall and subsequently ordered tests at several buildings of a similar age. Those tested included Bole Annex, the Carriage House, Memorial Hall, Oak Hall and Laurel Hall. With the exception of Memorial Hall, all of the buildings had water with lead level above 15 parts per billion, the Action Level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

"As soon as we received the results of these tests, we immediately took action to prevent consumption of water in each of these buildings," Houshmand said. 

Officials have disconnected all water fountains in the affected buildings and posted "Do Not Drink" signs at all water faucets. In Oak and Laurel halls, lead filters have also been installed on all drinking water faucets.

Out of caution, the university will provide bottled water to every residence on campus for the purposes of brushing teeth, cooking and hydrating. 

The university will also re-examine water filters in every cafeteria and location that serves food. 

Water quality test results from every building on Rowan's main campus — more than 50 total — are expected to be available within the next 10 days. Laboratory analysis will take several months to complete, officials said. As results become available, they will be published on the university's website. 

"Wherever lead levels exceed the EPA Action Level, we will implement remediation measures to address the problem," Houshmand said. 

Students at the various residence halls on campus are advised to look for signs throughout their respective buildings to locate their water pick up stations. 

Since lead is not absorbed through skin, officials have confirmed the safety of activities such as showering, washing hands, washing clothing and cleaning kitchen utensils. 

Despite the issues at Rowan, the Glassboro Water Department system remains in compliance with Federal and State regulations pertaining to lead, Houshmand said. 

"The lead most likely is leaching into our water from older pipes, lead-based solder and plumbing fixtures on campus that contain lead," he added. "We have no reason to believe that members of our community who live off campus have cause for concern about the water where they live." 

Those with questions and concerns can find more information about available university resources and elevated lead levels here

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