CPS Finds 14 Schools with High Lead in Water Samples

Parents of students at 14 Chicago Public Schools are receiving notices that testing has found elevated levels of lead in water at their children’s schools.

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CEO Forrest Claypool says the district has tested 169 schools so far and received thousands of samples from faucets and drinking fountains.

Results show that 31 of those water fixtures had lead levels above the recommended level.

“In most of the cases, the impacted water fountains or sinks are rarely used, and there are usually one or two in each school affected,” Claypool told reporters.

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita reminds parents that lead-based paint is a greater threat to children and that her office works with families to provide testing and resources.

“We don't believe water is primary source of lead poisoning among children in the city of Chicago. Our numbers reveal that,” she explained. “We know that in the 1990s when there was a lot of lead-based paint that was still around, there was a lot of hazard around, that’s when we had the highest rates of lead poisoning in children. Currently, we're talking about less than one in a hundred children who have lead poisoning, that’s because of our attention on lead-based paint.”

Morita said of the children tested at Tanner Elementary, the first school to have high lead levels found in drinking fountains when testing began, fewer than 10 children have been found with elevated lead levels. Those preliminary screening tests, she explained, use a finger stick to draw blood and can be overly sensitive to lead. Thus, those children will need further testing to confirm whether high lead exists. If so, she says her department will work with families to test lead levels in the children’s homes as well.

She advises parents to contact their hotline, 312-747-LEAD (5323) or dial 311 for more information.

The district still has over 150 school buildings to test before the end of the school year. To find out which schools had high lead levels, visit cps.edu/leadtesting.

Results by school:

Beasley: 1 drinking fountain, 2 sinks and 1 sink in kitchen that is not used

Beidler: 1 sink

Blaine: 1 drinking fountain and 1 sink

Brentano: 1 drinking fountain and 1 sink for handwashing in kitchen

Budlong: 1 sink

Esmond: 1 drinking fountain

Fernwood: 2 drinking fountains

Harvard: 1 drinking fountain

LaSalle II: 1 sink

Locke J: 1 sink

Peirce: 1 drinking fountain

Perez: 1 drinking fountain

Reilly: being retested

Tanner: 4 drinking fountains

Follow Brandis Friedman on Twitter: @BrandisFriedman

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