The Examiner U-46 News Feed
District U-46 releases lead in water test data
By Seth Hancock
Results of water testing measuring lead levels in School District U-46 have been released.
Karla Jiménez, coordinator of family and community engagement, said that the district tested water sources in 38 buildings, and the results of 37 were posted to a page on the district website (u-46.org). Jiménez said Woodland Heights Elementary School in Streamwood “is not in use,” and its results were not posted.
Of the results from the 37 buildings posted, all but four had water sources that tested above Illinois’ standard of five parts per billion (ppb). The federal government’s standard issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is 15 ppb.
Clinton Elementary School in South Elgin had one first floor sink that produced the highest level of lead of all tested sources at 3,120 ppb, but that was an anomaly compared to the rest of the results.
The largest number of water sources testing higher than the standards were at Wayne Elementary School (54 sources over the state standard, 22 EPA, 222 ppb the highest level found), Willard Elementary School in South Elgin (44 state, seven EPA, 42.5 ppb highest), Bartlett Elementary School (42 state, eight EPA, 86.1 ppb highest) and Ridge Circle Elementary in Streamwood (33 state, nine EPA, 68.8 ppb highest).
Jiménez said the districts webpage with the results “was shared with parents as part of our communication to parents in schools with any samples above 5 ppb,” and according to that page emails were sent that included the districts planned corrective measures.
According to the district, water fountains within classrooms that tested above the state standard will be shut off, and those outside of classrooms “will either be shut off, replaced or retrofitted to provide filtered water, a measure that goes beyond the (Illinois Department of Public Health) guidelines,” and U-46 “will take additional steps to mitigate the levels of lead such as installing filters.”
Sinks that tested above the standard will be labeled “Hand Washing Only. Not Drinking Water” according to the district website. According to epa.gov, “human skin does not absorb lead in water” making hand washing safe.
The U-46 webpage also states: “During the past three years, U-46 has installed 131 water bottle filtration stations or retrofit filters across the District to deliver fresh water to students and faculty and reduce the amount of plastic bottle waste going into landfills. We will continue to install these water stations this summer, and next school year in a fair and equitable manner, starting with the most recently tested sites.”
According to the EPA, “even low levels of lead in the blood of children” can cause anemia, behavior and learning problems, hearing problems, lowered IQ and hyperactivity and slowed growth. In severe, and rare, cases according to the EPA, “ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.”
When asked if parents with children who attended those schools that had sources above the state standard should have any concerns, Jiménez referred The Examiner to a statement from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH): “While any source of lead exposure to children is concerning, the majority of child lead poisoning is attributed to lead paint and lead in soil.”
The IDPH statement added: “A blood test is the only way to find out if your child has a high lead level. Most children with high levels of lead in their blood have no symptoms. Your child’s health care provider can recommend treatment if your child has been exposed to lead.”
The testing was done in compliance to a public act enacted at the start of this year requiring buildings in which pre-k through fifth grade students attend built before Jan. 1, 1987 be tested before the end of this year, and those built after and through Jan. 1, 2000 must be tested before the end of 2018.
The district contracted Carnow, Conibear & Assoc., Ltd to perform the testing, and according to the district website over 3,000 water samples were taken for testing back in May.