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Chicago Public Schools Have Chronic Lead Problem

By Victor Trammell

Rigorous tests have found that 99 public schools in the city of Chicago, Illinois have unsafe amounts of lead in their water systems.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, officials from the Chicago public school district (CPS) have announced that all these schools had at least one drinking fountain or sink that dispersed water with lead levels that were higher than what is allowed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

CPS began testing the water safety in its public schools almost immediately after the tragic water crisis in Flint, Michigan made national headlines this past spring. Lead exposure is extremely unsafe for young children because it impairs brain development.

At Onahan Elementary, a school in the CPS district, lead testers found that four water fountains there contained illegally high levels of lead. However, CPS officials said that tests would resume when classes begin for the upcoming school year. They also said that when the water is turned off during summer vacation, test results can be somewhat misleading.

During the mass water testing effort conducted by CPS, 263 of the city’s 500-plus schools had their tests completed by this past Friday evening. Results for the remaining schools are still coming in and they can be found at

Replacing the plumbing fixtures is what needs to be done in order to reduce lead levels in the water systems of these public schools. However, CPS officials have not shared a plan of action to complete this work and a timetable to get started on the work has not been revealed either.

CPS is currently dealing with a long list of funding problems over its budget for basic school necessities. This latest issue involving water safety at the city’s public schools does not ease concerns in the community about the school district’s incompetency to act when it comes to vital issues.

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