I-Team: Chicago Park District shuts down 15 water fountains after lead testing

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More public water fountains were shut down by the city after an investigation by the I-Team. (WLS)

More public water fountains were shut down by the city after an investigation by the I-Team.

For months, the I-Team has been reporting on lead dangers in paint and water. According to a recent report, 15 water fountains inside Chicago Park District facilities have been shut down for high levels of lead.

The city's lead-testing program started after the I-Team found the toxic metal in a park facility.

The I-Team exposed lead in one fountain in May. Then in July, the I-Team reported on the city's new testing program, which was launched after the I-Team's story. According to the latest, August 8 report, a total of 15 fountains were found to have lead above the EPA's "action level." Children are the most susceptible to the effects of lead poisoning and according to the CDC, no level of lead is safe.

"It is a long term deeply pernicious neurotoxin, particularly bad for children, shaves off their IQ, makes them hard to keep their attention levels, it creates problems of impulse control, it leads to distraction, violent behavior and long term lack of intellectual capacity. The fact is damage from lead can never be reversed," said Henry Henderson of the National Resources Defense Council.

The I-Team investigation also found lead in fountains along the lakefront this summer, and the park district shut down some of those fountains, including at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Now more have been shut down at indoor facilities. At Murray Park in West Englewood, two fountains had the highest amounts of lead at 88 and 78 parts per billion.

"I don't want my child to be sick on something they could have fixed years ago," said Englewood resident John Smith. "I have a daughter. I don't want her drinking that water... Shut 'em down!"

High levels were found at a fountain at the Eugene Field Gymnasium - 71 parts per billion - in Albany Park, which was joined by fountains near a preschool classroom at the Oakland community's Kennicott Park - 26.3 parts per billion.

The I-Team discovered the updated list on the park district's website on its own. The park district has never held a press conference or accepted any of the I-Team's numerous requests for interviews about their testing program or findings.

"More transparency is better government than holding things back," Henderson said. "People have a legitimate fear of what they are drinking they have a legit interest in knowing that when their children are going to a water fountain on a hot summer day those water fountains are not filled with a neurotoxin, so greater and greater transparency is more efficient and the sounder way to govern."

High lead levels were also found at Amundsen Park, Dawes Park, Jackson Park, Humboldt Park, Marquette Park, Norwood Park, Paul Revere Park and Washtenaw Park. To see the results of the Chicago Park District's testing, click here.

The Chicago Park District released a statement saying, "In response to heightened awareness around the issue of water quality, the Chicago Park District embarked upon a pilot program to test the drinking water in Park District field houses out of an abundance of caution. As the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has reiterated in recent months, the most likely cause of lead poisoning in children is lead paint, not lead in water. The Park District has tested the drinking water in every field house, and of those, only three percent - 15 out of 452 water fountains - reported lead levels above the EPA's actionable threshold. All fountains that reported high levels of lead were immediately taken out of service for further testing and/or remediation."


Related Topics:
healthI-Teamchicago park districtleadwaterconsumerI-Team lead contaminationChicago - Albany ParkChicago - Englewood
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