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City Tests For Lead At 28 Schools, Offers Free Tests To Residents

By Kelly Bauer | April 28, 2016 8:01am | Updated on April 29, 2016 11:40am
 The City of Chicago is offering free water quality tests to residents.
The City of Chicago is offering free water quality tests to residents.
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CHICAGO — The city has started testing for lead in the water of Chicago schools.

While there's nothing to indicate that water at schools has been tainted by lead, the city will start tests at 28 schools this week "out of an abundance of caution," according to a city news release. The change comes months after the city of Flint, Mich., gained national attention for its lead-tainted water.

If lead is found in the water at the city's schools, Chicago Public Schools will notify students' families, supply bottled water for children and make repairs, according to the city. The results will be posted online.

Chicago also will work with lawmakers to pass legislation that will "protect and promote the safety of our water supply," according to the city.

“As a child, my dad led the effort on testing for lead poisoning due to exposure to lead paint; protecting children and families from the dangers of lead exposure is important to me personally,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, according to the city.

Chicago also offers free water quality tests to residents who call 311 to request them. Within two business days they'll receive a call back to schedule the test. Results will be available within three weeks of the water sample being taken.

The department will also now post the results of the test online, the city said.

If the tests show a high amount of lead in the water — 15 parts per billion, which the city said was the threshold for action — the Department of Water Management will return to the home with a plumber and electrician to help find the problem and figure out how to fix it.

The city's Department of Public Health also will test the water of homes where a child has elevated blood lead levels and will require property owners to fix "any lead-based paint hazard" in 30 days if a child living on the property has an elevated blood lead level, the city said.

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