High Lead Levels Found in Chicago Elementary School Classrooms

Peeling and chipping paint in three classrooms highlight an ongoing problem in classrooms all over the country.   December 28, 2022

By Greg Zimmerman, senior contributing editor

High levels of lead have been found in three classrooms, including one used for children with cognitive or physical disabilities, of a Chicago elementary school built in 1881. Teachers alerted the principal at McClellan Elementary School of paint chipping back in October. After Thanksgiving, teachers reported that large amounts of paint peeled and fell from the ceiling of the special education classroom. Teachers paid for a lead testing kid they bought online and performed their own test. Finally, in December, Chicago Public Schools did their tests, according to NBC Chicago.  

When the tests were performed in December, elevated lead levels of lead were found in the three classrooms. The specific levels have not been made public. Chicago Public Schools plans remediation and repainting work over the winter break.  

The most recent facilities report, according to the Chicago Teachers Union, is from 2020 and includes reports of “cracked, peeling and damaged paint from ceilings and walls.”  

There is no safe level of lead for children, according to a story in the Chicago Sun-Times, reporting on this incident and the long-standing problem of lead in Chicago Public Schools classrooms and drinking water.  

Greg Zimmerman is senior contributing editor for FacilitiesNet.com and Building Operating Management magazine. 


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