City Says Water at NYC Housing Complex Arsenic Free

Residents at a public housing complex in Manhattan have gone a week without running water after a report that it had high levels of arsenic. But on Saturday, New York City officials said that new tests have confirmed that the water in the developed area has never been dangerous.

The city also said that a separate report of Legionella bacteria in the water could also be inaccurate.

“I know the past eight days have been unbearable for the residents of Jacob Riis Houses,” Mayor Eric Adams said Saturday in a statement announcing that the water had been cleared for drinking. “I won’t ask the residents of Riis Houses to do anything that I wouldn’t do, which is why I stopped by Riis Houses and had a drink myself.”

Resident complained about cloudy water last monthCity officials said, and tests conducted soon after, detected arsenic in the water. But new tests on the original water sample failed to find that arsenic levels exceeded federal drinking water standards, according to a statement Friday from the lab, Environmental and Technology Monitor.

In its statement, the lab said that the “complexity” of the test method “introduced a trace level of arsenic to the water sample”. City officials said they are considering legal action against the lab.

On Thursday, the city said there may also be other contaminants in the water after a separate test by another lab apparently found Legionella, a bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, to have Legionella’s disease. can be fatal if not treated.

But on Saturday, the mayor said those results could also be inaccurate. He noted that Legionnaires’ disease “cannot be transmitted by drinking water.” The mayor said the city has not received any reports of any illness at Jacob Riis Houses in the past 12 months.

Residents of the complex say reports of unsafe drinking water have worried them. Dozens of people attended an emotional meeting with city officials on Friday night, occasionally erupting with screams.

Jennifer Ramirez, 49, who grew up in the development and whose mother is still a resident there, attended the meeting and said people were feeling bewildered and scared.

“It was panicking,” Ms. Ramirez said. “There is a lot of frustration that builds up. This is urban decay – and this is the reaction. “

Nate Schweber contribution report.

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