Apr 08, 2021

Six Year Investigation of Illinois Tap Water Probes Extent of Lead in Water

Samples of Illinois' tap water were collected under federal regulations by the state’s 1,768 water utilities.

tap water

A six-year investigation of tap water in Illinois discovered that more than 8 out of every 10 residents live in a community where lead was found in tap water.

This number includes local suburbs, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis.

The analysis was conducted between 2015 and 2020. According to the results, tap water in dozens of Illinois homes had hundreds and even thousands of parts per billion of lead. Samples were collected under federal regulations by the state’s 1,768 water utilities, reported The Chicago Tribune.

Approximately 60% of the state’s water systems found at least one home with levels greater than 5 ppb, the Food and Drug Administration’s limit for bottled water, reported The Chicago Tribune.

Lincolnwood, Illinois had water samples from 120 participating homes between 2015 and 2020 collected. A sample at one residence was found to have lead measuring 523 parts per billion (ppb), according to the results, reported The Chicago Tribune.

According to Lincolnwood Public Works Director Nadim Badran, the results were a “sampling error,” noting that the home that was tested had been vacant for a month prior to the testing.

“The water we tested was stagnant and sitting in the line for a long time,” Badran said.

27 other samples did show a lead content between 5 and 40 ppb, according to EPA data.

Lincolnwood switched to Evanston as a water supplier in 2020 and Lincolnwood is now required by the EPA to conduct more frequent water testing. It is also in the process of replacing all of its municipal water mains.

In Park Ridge, no Park Ridge water mains are made of lead but some older homes built prior to the late 1970s may still have lead service lines. 

Between 2015 and 2020, 60 water samples were collected from homes in Park Ridge revealed that eight of them contained above 5 ppb of lead, according to EPA data. The highest amount of lead in a sample was 11 ppb, reported The Chicago Tribune.

In Niles, of 214 samples taken, 38 of them contained above 5 ppb but none above 22 ppb, according to the EPA, reported The Chicago Tribune. In 2020, two samples were found to contain lead levels above 15 ppb, but one was a vacant home with water that had been stagnant and the other sample was taken from a faucet in a home not used regularly by the resident.

Residents can use a searchable database from the Chicago Tribune to see the amount of lead found in water systems throughout the state.

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