Lead Contamination Found in Hundreds of Chicago Taps

The city offered free water tests to its citizens and found lead in 70 percent of homes

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Lead contamination was found in 70 percent of the 2,797 homes tested in Chicago as part of a program allowing residents to analyze their water free of charge, according to a recent report by the Chicago Tribune.

Water samples from 30 percent of the homes exceeded the 5 ppb standard used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for bottled water, while more than 100 tested higher than the actionable level of 15 ppb used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate water utilities.

The results, which are available on the program’s website, indicate Chicago has a deeper lead contamination problem than federally mandated testing indicates, according to Virginia Tech researcher Yanna Lambrinidou. She sat on an EPA advisory panel that advocated for better lead testing and public engagement in 2015.

“Chicago’s testing blows out of the water one of the foundations of (federal regulations), namely that current lead-in-water monitoring requirements yield reliable information about the extent and severity of contamination across a service area,” she told the Chicago Tribune.

Meanwhile, a previous report by the Tribune shows the majority of homes tested for compliance in 2016 were owned by water department employees or retirees in low-risk neighborhoods, and unsurprisingly, those tests found no cause for concern. But the free public tests are painting a different picture.

Currently, the city’s policy maintains that homeowners are responsible for paying for the replacement of lead service lines if they deem it necessary. Critics of the ordinance say the city is missing an opportunity to replace lead service lines while utility workers have the streets dug up for water main replacements.

Source: Chicago Tribune


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