High lead levels in water found at 14 more Chicago schools

CHICAGO (AP) — The number of Chicago schools that have tested positive for lead in the water flowing from fountains has grown by two, bringing the number to 14, school district officials said Thursday.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said the 14 cases of lead are out of 65 schools for which test results are available.

Following the arrival of this week’s test results, the district shut down drinkable water fixtures at Reilly Elementary and brought in water coolers. Officials said the building was being retested due to “possible extenuating circumstances that could have compromised the testing accuracy.”

The water supply of the school “might have been off in the days before the initial samples were taken, which could have a significant impact on results,” Chicago Public Schools said.

Tests have found that there were high lead levels from two fountains at Fernwood Elementary. The district said high lead levels were also shown by a fountain and kitchen sick at Brentano Math and Science Academy.

Claypool said Thursday that parents of students attending Blaine Elementary School have been told high lead levels were found in a “rarely-used water fountain in a basement classroom” as well as a fountain inaccessible to students. The second school wasn’t identified pending notification of parents.

Testing has been done by the district at 156 of 324 buildings with prekindergarten programs and that were constructed prior to 1986, the district said.

Concern about lead in drinking water increased this year after the discovery of elevated lead levels in Flint, Michigan, water.

“Given heightened awareness nationally about lead exposure for children and to provide parents with timely information, Chicago Public Schools is taking proactive steps to ensure that our children’s drinking water is safe across all schools by testing every school in the district,” district spokesman Michael Passman said in a statement.

Water tests were started by the school district in April. That was following the city’s disclosure that water from public school buildings hadn’t been checked for lead contamination for years.

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