Frequently Asked Questions About Our Water Supply

WATER QUALITY

Frequently Asked Questions About Our Water Supply

Tests of water in several buildings in July and August on Rowan University’s main campus in Glassboro showed an elevated level of lead. Since Aug. 31, we have conducted preliminary tests throughout campus to assess other buildings. We have addressed the situation in buildings we already know are affected as we work to ensure that the water supply for our students, employees and visitors is safe and meets government standards.

The following information addresses frequently asked questions. We will keep the Rowan community updated on the situation as additional relevant information becomes available.

Important Links

Frequently Asked Questions

New

1. What did the University find when it tested the entire campus?

The vast majority of results indicated the lead level in the water in buildings tested since Aug. 31 is well below the EPA Action Level, and in many instances no lead was detected. (Elevated levels were found in some kitchen faucets in the ROTC building, Evergreen Hall and Girard House.)

2. How did you tests these buildings?

We conducted “grab” samples of at least one faucet/water outlet in each building. Although they do not meet standard protocols for water testing, grab samples simulate the habits of people getting a drink from a fountain or faucet (not running the water before drinking it) and provide some immediate insight into water status in particular locations. We will follow these tests with more comprehensive tests. 

3. How can I still get filtered water until the comprehensive tests are complete?

We are installing more filtered-water water-bottle filling stations throughout the campus as well as retrofitting water fountains. In an abundance of caution, we will provide bottled water in residence halls until comprehensive testing is complete.

 
Original 

1. What is lead?

A naturally occurring element, lead can be found throughout the environment, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Lead can create a health concern, especially in some populations, such as children and pregnant women. You can learn about lead at this site: https://www.epa.gov/lead/learn-about-lead.

2. How did lead get into Rowan’s water supply?

Though we do not have a definitive answer as of yet, the Borough of Glassboro water system is currently in compliance with Federal and State regulations pertaining to lead. This suggests the lead may be from pipes in the buildings, as older pipes, faucet fixtures and the solder/flux used to connect pipe joints can be sources of lead.

3. Which buildings have been tested?

We have tested all buildings on the Glassboro campus.

4. What did the tests find? What is Rowan doing to remediate the situation?

In late July, we tested the water in Linden Hall after an inquiry about discolored water—usually an indication of elevated levels of iron. The test results did indeed indicate elevated levels of iron and also of lead throughout the building, so we disconnected water fountains and, in an abundance of caution, asked employees not to drink water from the faucets until filtration systems could be installed.

As the result of those findings, we tested nearby buildings that receive their water from the same water line. Tests in August showed that Bole Annex and the Carriage House also have elevated levels of lead. Memorial Hall, however, presented results below the EPA Action Level (15 parts per billion). This is the level beyond which the EPA requires regulated entities to act. All three buildings are older administration buildings. Oak and Laurel Halls, residence buildings, also had elevated levels.

Starting Aug. 31, we conducted preliminary tests of all our buildings on the Glassboro campus to ascertain the scope of the concern. The vast majority of outlets we tested showed levels well under the EPA Action Level. Some faucets in the ROTC building, Evergreen Hall and Girard House exceeded the level.

We installed water filters on all faucets in Oak and Laurel halls, removing 99 percent of the lead, and we disconnected water fountains before students moved in.

We provided filtered water in all academic and administration buildings and will ensure the availability of filtered or bottled water for all residence halls until all tests are finalized. We also will continue to install filtered-water water-bottle filling stations and retrofit many existing water fountains with filters throughout campus.

We will follow with comprehensive testing and develop further plans to remedy the situation. We are working closely with the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection and industry experts.

5. What were the testing protocols?

All water samples in the initial cluster of buildings were collected following nationally accepted protocols to identify the presence of lead. In all buildings, Rowan Environmental Health and Safety employees worked with a private water-quality testing company to collect the samples. In order to get an accurate picture of possible exposure and because some buildings had minimal to no use during the summer, all water lines were flushed. The water system was then left unused overnight, letting the fresh water stay in the pipes for that period of time. Samples were taken in the morning. A second flush sample was taken after the water was allowed to run for 30 seconds. Samples were collected in 250ml containers with a nitric acid preservative.

Samples taken since Aug. 31 were grab samples (see Question 2 under “New” above).

For more information about specific testing protocols, please call Joe Cardona at 856-256-4236. 

6. What do filters do? Where has Rowan installed them?

Filters with an NSF certification for lead removal can effectively remove up to 99 percent of the lead from water. We have a dozen filtered-water water-bottle filling stations that were previously installed across campus and have NSF filters. We will install additional units as we learn more about the quality of the water across campus.

7. Is food preparation on campus safe? Is it safe to eat in the Student Center, Holly Pointe and elsewhere?

Our cafeterias have filters in place, except for Holly Pointe Commons, our brand new dining facility. Legislation passed in 1986 made it illegal to use lead-based solder/flux on pipes.

8. Does Rowan regularly monitor its water supply?

Rowan annually tests water in the Early Childhood Demonstration Center (child care center) in accordance with relevant Federal and State regulations and has not found elevated levels at any time.

9. Are there state or national standards for the frequency of testing of public buildings?

There are testing requirements for day care centers and public education buildings in New Jersey but not any other facilities.

10. How will this impact my health? What if I have worked here a long time?

To learn more about how lead can impact health, go to:

11. Should I see a physician or otherwise be evaluated?

Lead-contaminated water is primarily an issue for children and pregnant women. Please consult your physician if you have concerns, but in the meantime read information from the EPA and from the New Jersey Department of Health at:

12. Should I brush my teeth with tap water? Cook with it? Drink it?

The EPA encourages people dealing with lead-contaminated water not to brush their teeth with, cook with or drink unfiltered water.

13. Should I wash my hands with this water? Shower with it?

In general, according to the EPA, it is safe for most people to wash and shower in water that contains lead. (https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/basic-information-about-lead-drinking-water#skin)

14. Can I wash dishes, etc. with this water?

According to the EPA, unfiltered soapy water can be used to wash dishes, bottles and toys. Dry dishes and cooking utensils before use. The EPA indicates that lead in water will not be absorbed by porcelain, metal or glass. You can wash clothes in plain tap water as well.

15. Where can I find more information about how to reduce my exposure to lead in water?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers safety tips at: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips/water.htm.

16. How will Rowan keep the University community informed?

We will communicate through email and this website, which we will update regularly as results come in and plans are developed. Please refer to this site to find out about forums that are being scheduled to answer questions.