ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — An Illinois law passed in 2017 requires school districts to test for lead in their water supply, and the results might not make parents happy.
Of the almost 2,100 public schools that submitted test results for lead, 1,800 of them identified it in their water supply, according to the Chicago Tribune. Of these schools, 1,350 had enough lead in the supply where parental notification is required.
Some amount of blame has been put on the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the agency that is overseeing the law. The IDPH reportedly did not ensure that all schools conducted the testing, as well as gave conflicting guidance on what the schools should do it high levels of lead in their water supply.
The law also did not require school districts to take action if lead was found in their water supply.
“You don’t really realize it could be an issue as an educator,” said Kankakee School District 111 Superintendent Genevra Walters, where traces of lead were found in all of the district’s schools. “We’re focused on education; we’re not necessarily focused on the facilities as much as we should.”
Data collected showed that it is a problem all over the state, with no area being immune from the problem. It includes schools in rural, suburban and urban areas. Districts that had a lot of money, as well as districts that were strapped for cash, both saw the problem.
Most public schools in the state were constructed before 1986, when lead pipes were commonly used in internal plumbing. A law passed in 1988 by the federal government instructed
The IDPH is now working to collect missing results from schools, as state officials do not know if all the schools that were required to test for lead have done so.