Chicago Park District will be testing all indoor and outdoor fountains at its parks across the city. This comes after tests at 60 parks showed low levels of lead in most drinking fountains. But some had lead levels far above the federal regulatory limits.
“Out of 158 water fountains tested, two tested above the EPA’s action level and have been turned off while we investigate the cause and determine the appropriate corrective actions. The Chicago Park District will test all water fountains, both indoor and outdoor, across the city. The results of this testing will be posted online,” according to a statement from the District.
Documents obtained by WBEZ show a water fountain at Montrose Avenue and the Lakefront checked in with lead levels of 663 parts per billion—that’s 44 times the federal regulatory limit of 15 ppb.
And the water at a fountain near the elephant house in Lincoln Park Zoo contained lead at 78.7 ppb— more than five times that federal standard. The district says it has turned the fountains off.
These numbers come from retests done by the Park District after ABC-7 analyzed 11 lake front fountains and found elevated levels at these two.
The District also recently tested indoor fountains at 60 field houses across the city. WBEZ obtained their results through a Freedom of Information Act request Monday. Although they indicated low levels of lead in all the water tested, the vast majority checked in well below the federal regulatory limits.
Still, harmful levels were found in water at Washtenaw Park where the fountain outside its Club Room showed levels as high as 121 ppb. At Humboldt a basement water fountain had lead levels as high as 55 ppb. Water from a hall fountain at Mt Greenwood Park initially showed levels of 15.1 ppb but those numbers went down significantly in retests.
Currently about 40,000 Chicago kids are attending camp in district parks.
WBEZ started looking at Park District water in response to a question from Curious City listener Svitlana Popyk, who asked “Where can I get lead stats on Chicago lake path drinking water fountains?” The Park District says it will post results from the testing of all fountains but has yet not specified when they will be available.
Here’s a chart of school test results so far.