Tests show unsafe lead levels in water at District 65

Potentially unsafe levels of lead have been found in the drinking water at all schools tested in Evanston/Skokie School District 65. 

Water with lead levels above 5 parts per billion requires notification and action under more stringent guildelines imposed this year by the Illinois Department of Health. State legislation passed earlier this year also requires all Pre-K to 5th grade schools and daycares built earlier than 2000 be tested.

Testing of District 65 schools was completed  in November. Some results came in December 4 and the rest were received by the District on Monday.

In all, 62 fixtures were found to be producing water with lead levels above 5 ppb, and in many cases well above, including a sink at Kingsley that was tested at 40.9 ppb.

Most of the high levels came from classroom sinks, but some drinking fountains were also out of compliance including three at Dawes, one at Lincolnwood and two at Park.

Each school website has a complete list and location of the effected fixtures. 

While not required by the new legislation, middle schools will be tested after winter break. 

School officials say any fixtures that showed lead levels in excess of 5ppb have been shut down and will remain off until the issue is addressed and the water retested. District 65 is working with the Evanston Health and Human Services Department on this issue.  The District 65 website describes next steps which include the identification, replacement, and installation of new filters, fixtures and pipes.

District 65 spokesperson Melissa Messinger says they have fielded a handful of calls from concerned parents.  

District Superintendent Paul Goren assured parents last year that water in district schools was safe to drink. Tests then showed all samples were under 15 ppb, the standard set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally the schools were only tested at one source, the point closest to where it enters the building, not each individual fixture, as was done this year.‚Äč

District 65 will host an information session for staff and families in conjunction with the Evanston Health Department on Dec. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the JEH Education Center at 1500 McDaniel Ave.

 

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