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NYC housing complex finds traces of arsenic in drinking water

Traces of arsenic were found in the drinking water at NYCHA’s Jacob Riis Houses in Manhattan on Friday, city officials said.

The alarming discovery was revealed after the city received complaints earlier in August about the cloudy state of the water at the massive East Village development, according to City Hall.

The news was first reported by The City, which said NYCHA officials were aware of the arsenic-tainted water from testing two weeks ago, but failed to take action until Friday.

But New York City Housing Authority spokesperson Barbara Brancaccio denied to The Post that initial testing detected arsenic and City Hall said they only learned of the situation Friday upon receiving results from additional water testing.

“Preliminary results received today from retesting showed arsenic levels higher than the federal standard for drinking water, and while there is no evidence linking it to the cloudy water, the city has taken immediate action, including providing support and drinking water to every household at Riis while we conduct additional water testing,” City Hall said in a statement.

It was unclear when the first test was conducted.

Later Friday, Mayor Eric Adams visited the housing complex and handed out bottles of water to residents, The City reported.

Riis resident Malina Barbosa told the news outlet she had not been notified about the contaminated water Friday night, but avoids drinking from the tap anyways, according to the article.

Mayor Adams.
It’s not known when the first test was conducted, but NYC officials have denied that initial testing detected arsenic.
Stefan Jeremiah for New York Pos

“We don’t drink their water. It kind of smells. When they turn it off and it comes back on, it’s brown,” Barbosa reportedly said on Friday night.

The Riis Houses are home to home to 2,686 New Yorkers, NYCHA data shows. The complex is named after the journalist that wrote the 1890 book “How the Other Half Lives,” which is credited for making the public-at-large aware of the squalid conditions of Lower East Side tenements.

NYCHA has been under a federal monitor since 2019 after the US Department of Housing and Urban Development sued the city over mismanagement that led to the lead poisoning of childreninfestations of toxic mold and vermin and cost overruns.

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