Highest Lead Levels Yet Found At School For Kids With Disabilities

drinking fountain
drinking fountain

Highest Lead Levels Yet Found At School For Kids With Disabilities

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Updated at 5:48 P.M.

A Chicago public school building that serves children with disabilities has been found with lead levels in its water fountain that are 23 times higher than the federal limit of 15 parts per billion. 

One classroom sink at Blair Early Childhood Center on 63rd Street also had lead levels of more than 1,000 ppb. The school is among 19 (out of 63 with results posted) that have shown elevated lead levels.

The results were posted on the same day a group of alderman, led by 29th Ward Ald. Chris Taliaferro, announced a call for hearings on lead contamination in Chicago schools.

CPS is in the process of testing water for lead in all its buildings and posting results on this site as they become available. The tests were scheduled to continue through the next school year but Taliaferro said that he would like to see most schools tested before school starts next year.

“In 2016, it’s outrageous that we must face the risk of putting our children in harm’s way just by sending them to school,” Taliaferro said at a City Hall press conference today.

CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said in a statement: “If City Council would like to hold hearings to learn more about the program, CPS officials would be happy to join the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Chicago Department of Water Management to testify about our efforts to test the water of every school in the district for lead, as well as our plans to resolve issues where they are found. In addition to regular briefings with alderman who have impacted schools in their wards, the District is also updating results daily on its website, cps.edu/leadtesting, so that members of the public can have easy access to information.”

Since Friday, CPS has posted lead results from water testing at several additional schools, including Chappell, Blaine, Beasley, Wentworth, Gunsaulus, Durkin Park, and Reilly, which all had elevated lead levels.

All of the water tested at Blaine had some level of lead in it, although only two sources were dispensing water that exceeded federal standards.

The water in one sink at Beasley had 965 ppb of lead, while a water fountain had 65 ppb.

Samples from the main water fountain at Reilly had consistently elevated lead levels with one 22 times over the limit.

Gunsaulus, Durkin Park and Chappell had unsafe levels of lead in the water of kitchen or classroom sinks.

WBEZ will continue to monitor the posted results and post them to this chart.