LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (PIX11) — Water samples from NYCHA’s Jacob Riis Houses continue to test negative for arsenic after an initial positive test, a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams said late Wednesday, while revealing that results now show possible Legionella bacteria.
Residents of the sprawling Lower East Side public-housing complex were still advised against using water in their buildings to drink or cook until further testing is complete, the spokesperson said in a prepared statement.
In the same statement, City Hall revealed the possible detection of Legionella, the bacteria that causes the potentially deadly Legionnaires’ disease, while saying that they “suspect these results are inaccurate,” and noting that “Legionella cannot be spread through drinking water.” The spokesperson also said that a review of the city’s Legionella surveillance data showed no reported or confirmed cases at the Riis Houses within the last 12 months.
The spokesperson said that City Hall received those results Wednesday from the same testing service that detected traces of arsenic in water samples from the development. The troubling discovery of the hazardous element was first reported on Sept. 2, with officials urging over 2,500 residents at the complex to refrain from ingesting water. City workers have been on hand to distribute safe water.
Retests of the samples have since come back negative for arsenic, City Hall said Wednesday, calling the results “encouraging.” Still, officials asked residents not to drink or cook with their water “out of an abundance of caution” until further testing is complete.
PIX11 News first reported residents’ concerns over cloudy water at the development in August, though the city has insisted that the two issues are separate.
One resident of the Riis Houses told PIX11 on Tuesday that he had been preliminarily diagnosed with arsenic poisoning after feeling ill for weeks. And in a PIX11 Morning News appearance on the same day, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said that NYCHA is “going to have to rebuild a lot of trust in Jacob Riis.”