EAST PEORIA — A recent mandatory test for lead in drinking water in East Peoria Elementary School District 86 schools discovered several locations where the levels were well above safety thresholds set by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
A first floor kitchen sink at Lincoln Elementary School, 801 Springfield Road, tested exceedingly high for lead with readings of 83.1 parts per billion, 63.7 ppb, 58.0 ppb and 35.7 ppb. The IDPH set a minimum detection limit of 2 ppb, a mitigation requirement 10 times more stringent than the 20 ppb action threshold recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for school outlets.
According to prepared material provided by the district, "The kitchen sinks identified are not used as a source for drinking water or for food preparation. The sink is a triple sink that is not and has not been in use."
The General Assembly in January passed legislation requiring all schools built before Jan 1, 1987, to complete water testing by the end of 2017. Schools constructed between Jan. 2, 1987, and Jan. 1, 2000, must complete testing by the end of 2018.
The East Peoria schools were tested in September, with the results recently made public. Complete results have been posted on the district website, www.epd86.org. Any building that had a finding greater than 5 ppb has individually notified parents in writing, a requirement of the act of the Legislature. Superintendent Tony Ingold said information was provided to the parents of students in District 86 schools about the results of the lead tests.
"Based on recommendations provided by (state agencies) mitigation and water management efforts are in progress," Ingold wrote to parents. "Many of the identified areas were sinks that are not used for food preparation or drinking. Any drinking fountains that may have been identified as over 2 ppb have been shut down and are in the process of being replaced. All affected areas will be retested."
Most of the lead readings at the kitchen sink in the Lincoln School dropped significantly after testing a sample of water collected after a 30-second flush of the line. One number remained exceedingly high at 58 ppb, but two others dropped to 4.27 ppb and no lead detected.
Other readings above 2 ppb across the district include a kitchen sink in Bolin Elementary School, 428 Arnold Road, at 2.93 ppb; four drinking fountains measuring between 2.41 ppb and 3.77 ppb at Armstrong-Oakview Elementary School, 1848 Highview Road; three drinking fountains between 2.36 ppb and 5.31 ppb at Shute Elementary School, 300 Briarbrook Drive; a first floor kitchen sink at 4.05 ppb at Glendale Elementary School, 1000 Bloomington Road; and a double sink in the kitchen at Wilson Elementary School, 300 Oakwood Ave., which tested at 65.4 and 17.4 on first draw, and then no lead detected after a 30-second flush.
Ingold said he did not know how long the taps in question may have been delivering water contaminated with lead.
"The only thing I was unable to answer is how long it has been that way," Ingold wrote in an email request for comment on Tuesday. "Testing has just been required by recent legislation."
The risk to an individual child from exposure to lead in drinking water depends on many factors, including the amount of lead in the water, the frequency, duration and dose of the exposures, and individual susceptibility factors such as age, weight, previous exposure history, nutrition and health, according to the district. Parents or guardians who are concerned that their child is displaying symptoms consistent with elevated levels of lead should contact their health-care provider.
Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or by email at email@example.com. Follow @scotthilyard on Twitter.