The New York City department charged with overseeing day care centers routinely failed to test the centers’ water for lead — and for years falsified reports that the tests had been completed, in order for the centers to receive operating permits — according to a sharply worded audit released on Friday by the city comptroller, Scott M. Stringer.
The audit found that the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had not tested the water from faucets and fountains in 70 of 119 day care centers — even though the health code mandates that drinking water at day care centers be tested for lead and fixed if the levels are unsatisfactory.
Of the 49 day care centers that had been tested, five had “unacceptable” levels of lead, the audit found, though the levels were later brought to acceptable levels. The audit suggested that thousands of children were put at an increased risk of lead exposure.
The audit also found that records had been altered to indicate, incorrectly, that satisfactory water test results were logged for the 70 centers that had not been tested.