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Water At 43 Percent of Chicago Parks Has High Levels Of Lead, Tests Show

By  Heather Cherone and Tanveer Ali | October 18, 2016 5:30am | Updated on October 21, 2016 11:41am

 Most of the tainted water fountains were outside at older parks, results show.
Most of the tainted water fountains were outside at older parks, results show.
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BACK OF THE YARDS — Water at 200 Chicago parks tested positive for elevated levels of lead, the Chicago Park District announced.

Results of tests conducted on 2,435 indoor and outdoor drinking water sources found approximately 43 percent of Chicago's parks had elevated levels of lead in water from at least one sink or drinking fountain, according to the results.

But only 3 percent of the district's indoor sinks and drinking water fountains tested positive for elevated levels, park district spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said.

About 24 percent of the district's outdoor drinking water fountains tested positive for elevated levels of lead, Maxey-Faulkner said.

The Environmental Protection Agency considers water with less than 15 parts per billion of lead to be safe.

All of the fixtures that tested positive for high levels of lead have been shut down, officials said.

"These fountains will undergo further testing, and will be removed, repaired or replaced, as necessary," Maxey-Faulkner said.

Among the highest test results were at Avalon Park, 1215 E. 83rd St., where water with 1,800 parts per billion of lead was found in an outdoor drinking water fountain. Another fountain in the South Side park had 1,200 parts per billion, according to the test results. 

At Grant Park Downtown, a fountain had water with 1,200 parts per billion.

At Packingtown Park, 4856 S. Laflin St. in Back of the Yards, where an outdoor fountain had 311 parts per billion of lead, according to the test results. That is 22 times more than federal officials consider safe.

Approximately 40,000 Chicago kids attended day camp this summer at city parks, with thousands more attending other programs during the school year.

The government is especially concerned with children drinking lead-tainted water, as they're more susceptible to its effects. Amounts of lead that won't hurt adults can hinder mental and physical development in children, according to the EPA.

Water at 17 Catholic schools in Chicago tested positive for elevated levels of lead, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools have tested all of their facilities.

Water tests by Chicago Public Schools officials found at least 113 public schools had dangerously high levels of lead.

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