Testing Finds Lead in Most Illinois Schools' Drinking Water

Lead was found in the drinking water in the majority of schools tested, but most schools have not taken any corrective action due to lack of funding.   May 19, 2023

By Greg Zimmerman, senior contributing editor

Of nearly 2,100 schools in Illinois tested, more than 1,800 returned results that indicated lead in their drinking water, according to a new analysis by the Chicago Tribune. More shockingly, of those 1,800, about 1,350 school buildings had lead levels higher than 5 parts per billion, the threshold over which parents must be notified. Some schools were tested as high as 1,000 parts per billion.  

The testing was done to satisfy the requirements of a law passed in 2017 in Illinois, but according to the Tribune analysis, no further steps, largely because of lack of funding, have been taken to address the problem of lead found in schools’ drinking water. And the state did not make the results of the testing public.  

Lead is particularly harmful when ingested by children. “The metal damages developing brains even in very small amounts, and studies show that consuming lead lowers IQ, increases the chance of developing attention deficit disorders and is particularly destructive to young children,” according to the Tribune

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


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