Lead: Slowly Poisoning Our Country

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Photo: Leaded water in one of the many lead positive Chicago Public School’s bottled from the school’s water fountain.

With news about flint’s water crisis still fresh in our minds, we continue to hear concerns from other communities about their water supplies. Recently, more than 72 Chicago public schools were found to have high levels of lead, well above EPA standards, in their water fountains and/or sinks. Nearly an additional 75 Chicago schools tested positive for lead in the water, but the levels were deemed “safe,” by EPA standard. This means these schools did test positive for lead, but the lead was less than 15 parts per billion, so students were allowed to continue school and be exposed to lead in the water. Out of all 500+ schools only 50 were lead free.
As we know lead has no safe level of exposure for children or adults alike. Lead is dangerous and can be fatal for the human body. Lead poisoning can damage one’s brain and nervous system, leading to issues with body function and control as well as mental illness. Issues with the stomach and the kidneys are common. Lead can also cause high blood pressure. However, little is being done to combat the leaded pipes and the illnesses linked to children who have been repeatedly exposed to leaded water. Several children have explained that they have been drinking from these highly contaminated sources multiple times each day during the school week leaving them especially vulnerable to lead leaching.
Since the Flint water crisis has come to the forefront, communities have started to take notice. With more and more cities doing more routine water testing, it is likely that more townships and school districts will find themselves in the same position wondering what to do to save their water and most importantly protect their children. As parents and educators fight for the health of the students blame alone will not be enough to combat the lead crisis. The EPA is approaching these issues slowly and ineffectively. The response to the communities is unjust and has left the people helpless. Especially parents of children from the 75+ affected Chicago public schools who are forced to continue sending their children to these schools each day where they are constantly exposed.
The EPA National Drinking Water Advisory Committee Working Group has recommended removal of all lead service lines as a public health priority, however this is a monumental project. One that will not be accomplished promptly or with enough time to truly make a difference. There is also the enormous cost burden which these communities cannot afford.  Areas like Chicago and Flint still need help and they need it now. By shining light on all the affected communities across our country we can help grow support and action pushing the government to act fast and change its practices on removing lead from our waterways.
To keep a watchful eye on these topics and their progress head to CHEJ’S Facebook page, website, or to learn more click here.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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