Lead in Water Testing
Lead can harm a young child’s growth, behavior, and ability to learn. Lead is a neurotoxin, particularly harmful to the developing brain and nervous system of children under six years old due to their rapid rate of growth. There are many sources of lead exposure in the environment, and it is important to reduce all lead exposures as much as possible.
In recent years, the District has begun to conduct water tests at all schools to identify and correct possible sources of lead that contribute to exposure from drinking water. We are now working to comply with a new Illinois law that requires every plumbing fixture in elementary schools be tested for lead. (225 ILCS 320/35.5)
When lead is found in tap water, it is typically due to leaching from internal plumbing materials. The potential for leaching increases the longer the water is in contact with the plumbing components. School water supplies tend to have extended periods of no water use (e.g., overnight, weekends, holidays, summer) that may increase the likelihood of elevated lead levels at the tap.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has established an “action level” for fixtures with lead concentrations that exceed 15 parts per billion (0.015 milligrams per liter). However, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) requires that schools notify parents of any sample that exceeds 5 ppb.
To date, none of our plumbing fixtures that are regularly used for drinking or cooking have tested positive for elevated lead levels. However, some of our classroom, office, and custodial sinks are not regularly used or are used only briefly and, as a result, show lead levels that exceed 5 ppb. [See Lead in Water Testing Schedule and Results.]
To mitigate elevated lead levels, the District has begun to:
- Install filtered drinking fountains
- Regularly flush all plumbing fixtures
- Post “no drinking” signs at fixtures that have elevated lead levels
- Remove or replace old plumbing fixtures where practical
- Regularly test and monitor all plumbing fixtures
The risk to an individual child from exposure to elevated lead in drinking water depends on many factors, including the child’s age, weight, amount of water consumed, and the amount of lead in the water. Children may also be exposed to lead from other significant sources, including paint, soil, and dust. Since blood lead testing is the only way to determine a child’s blood lead level, parents should discuss their child’s health history with their physician to determine if testing is appropriate.
The safety of our students and staff is our top priority. For more information about our water testing program or sampling results, please contact Mark Anderson, Director of Operations.