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Chicago’s Tap Water Tested Positive For Brain Damaging Lead 


Water upgrades (Cheryl Corley/NPR)

A severe amount of poisonous lead was located in the water of nearly 70% of Chicago homes and endanger the lives of countless residents.

Around 70 percent of the 2,797 Chicago homes tested during the last two years had a high amount of lead. According to an analysis report conducted by the Chicago Tribune, the tap water in 3 of every 10 homes evaluated had lead concentrations above 5 parts per billion, which is the maximum allowed in a water bottle according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations.

The significant quantity of the deadly metal showed up in water sample taken across Chicago. The city was tested due to its use of lead service lines between homes and streets. However, Congress forbid the application in 1986, the news source reported.

“My immediate take is that Chicago has a lead problem… However, nobody should panic here. This is a problem that has to be dealt with, but it’s not a cause for panic… In the meantime, fortunately, children can be protected here simply by switching water sources,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The city’s Department of Water Management wrote a statement to the Tribune.

“Since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office, he has made it a priority to improve Chicago’s overall water quality and infrastructure… Today, the city’s water exceeds the standards set by the (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) for clean, safe drinking water. And the Department of Water Management continues to take a proactive approach to mitigating lead in our water system and is continually evaluating additional methods of lead mitigation.”

One resident Jenny Abrahamian had one of the highest levels of lead found in her Northside home.

Chicago Tribune

Jenny Abrahamian explains how the whole-house water filtration system works at her Chicago home on April 4, 2018. She installed the system after testing showed her tap water contained lead. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)

Abrahamian collected 250 ppb of lead which is enough to cause brain damage. She’s since invested in a $1,100 water filter system. ‘I’m really happy I did… But this definitely isn’t something that everyone could afford,” she said.

On the other hand, the president of Gabriel Environmental Services in Chicago, John Polich told CNN, “As a general rule, our testing does not disclose high amounts of lead” and residents should not be alarmed one bit.

Around 4 million homes in the U.S. have been exposed to high levels of lead concentration from a multitude of sources including deteriorated lead paint, house dust and more according to the CDC.

Dr. Landrigan assured that Chicago should follow up on its findings and ascertain where the lead is coming from, how they can resolve the problem, and to test children for high toxic metal levels.

“It’s a very straightforward test. It can be done with either a finger stick blood sample or from the vein… If children are tested, if they’re put through testing and so on, the effects will show up… — the child will look OK. They’re not going to be obviously sick. This is what’s been referred to as silent poisoning,” he said.

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