The number of Chicago public schools where high levels of lead have been found in water has risen to 113, officials said Friday as the district released the schedule for testing remaining schools this fall.
That means over a third of the 327 elementary schools tested so far had high lead levels.
Laboratory test results from the 6,167 sinks and water fountains tested show 184 fixtures — 2.9 percent of the total — had at least one sample with lead levels above the federal Environmental Protection Agency maximum of 15 parts per billion, Chicago Public Schools officials said.
The fixtures include 95 drinking fountains and 89 sinks — 32 located in school cooking kitchens — officials said, adding that families at all 113 schools have been notified.
Results from each school, as well as the fall testing schedule for the rest of the district’s 500-plus schools, are posted here.
Citing concerns after learning of tainted water in Flint, Mich., the district in the spring hired private companies to test drinking water in elementary schools deemed at greatest risk because of their pre-K programs, or because kitchens and or other facilities were built before 1986. Other schools that didn’t fit the criteria paid for their own testing.
Exposure to lead is especially dangerous for young children, whose brain development can be impaired by even tiny levels of the metal. Exposure most often comes from lead paint, though the metal also can leach into drinking water from lead pipes — whose installation was banned in Chicago in 1986.
CPS officials haven’t said how they plan to replace the affected plumbing and fixtures, instead stressing the relatively small number of faucets or water fountains that registered above the EPA’s so-called “action level.”
School officials said many fixtures with readings above federally acceptable standards were not used frequently, and often would show a high reading at first, thenlower readings as water continued to run. But officials acknowledged that also could indicate problems with the fixtures.
The majority of the 113 schools had one to two fixtures with unacceptable levels. Some had three, including Barton, Carson, Carver G., Smyser and Spencer. Those with four included Courtenay, Onahan, Pullman, Tanner and Wentworth. Mitchell Elementary had the most, with six impacted fixtures.
Affected fixtures have been turned off, according to CPS. And CEO Forrest Claypool has said the broke district will spend whatever it takes to make the repairs. Testing at remaining schools will begin after classes resume, with Dyett the first to be tested, on Aug. 25, and Southwest Area the last, on Dec. 31.