To the Editor:
A new map released on Wednesday by Environment Illinois shows that, here in Illinois, 113 Chicago schools and 22 percent of suburban schools have faucets that dispense water contaminated with an unhealthy level of lead.
Unfortunately, Illinois’ children are not alone; the map makes it clear that lead contamination of school drinking water is a pervasive, nationwide public health concern which we must demand our school districts and elected officials act upon.
Lead is a potent neurotoxin that severely impairs child development and behavior, even at low levels of exposure. There is no safe level of lead. Yet, of the schools which have tested for lead in drinking water, many don’t even report lead below the dangerously high concentration of 15 parts per billion (ppb). This means that what the map shows is likely just the tip of the iceberg.
Luckily, we can take action now to mitigate this crisis. Schools can remove lead-bearing pipes, fixtures, and plumbing, and install certified filters on taps. We, Illinois residents, must demand that our school administrators, municipalities, and politicians implement these preventative measures. Our children’s health cannot wait.