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Advocates Seek Change on Proposed Lead Water-Testing Rules in Child Care Facilities

The Environmental Defense Fund is encouraging the Illinois Department of Children and Families to require child-care facilities to identify whether they have a lead service line. (Pixabay)
The Environmental Defense Fund is encouraging the Illinois Department of Children and Families to require child-care facilities to identify whether they have a lead service line. (Pixabay)
July 24, 2018

CHICAGO – Even in small doses, lead is a harmful element to consume. The effects can be drastic for children still developing, which is why Illinois has proposed rules for childcare facilities on testing for lead in water. But some environmental advocates believe that the rules need to be adjusted before finalization this fall, starting with the removal of the lead's main source.

Lindsay McCormick, project manager for the Environmental Defense Fund, says lead service lines are to blame for much of the water contamination.

"They contribute the most lead in drinking water, and that they're present in up to 50 to 75 percent of the lead in drinking water is coming from those lead service lines," she notes.

Lead service lines connect the main sources of water from the streets to connecting buildings and businesses, and many are located in Chicago, where they were used until 1986.

The current rules proposed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services require licensed child care facilities to test for lead and have a mitigation plan in place if it’s found. The Environmental Defense Fund applauds their use of a low action level, and is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to lower its recommended action level, which is currently at 20 parts-per-billion, down to five parts-per-billion.

Most importantly, McCormick says childcare facilities should first identify lead service lines for removal.

"Before doing any testing, [they] would look through historical records, they would do a physical inspection to identify whether or not they have a lead service line and replace it, before going through the process of testing to see if there are other sources of lead," she explains.

Continued consumption of lead can contribute to more effects than just brain development in kids, as the chronic toxicity allows it to distribute throughout the body, causing harm wherever it settles.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - IL