The Chicago Tribune has published an article pertaining to lead levels in drinking water. The City of Chicago’s water was discussed at length as well as the results of lead testing performed by both the City of Chicago as well as additional testing being done by United States Environmental Protection Agency (UPESA).

The City of Evanston’s Utilities Department just completed the lead testing as required by the Lead and Copper Rule this week and submitted results to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) as well as each homeowner where a sample was collected and analyzed.

The results were that the City maintained compliance to the rule (which it has done continuously since November of 1992) in that the 90th percentile value for lead was below the 15 parts per billion (ppb) action level required by the rule. In fact, the 90th percentile in Evanston this year was again less than 5 ppb which is the detection level used by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) who were contracted to perform the analyses. Additionally, measurable lead was only detected in two of the 30 homes tested and these levels were 5.1 and 6 ppb, still almost three times less than the action level of 15 ppb.

Evanston has used a blended poly/orthophosphate since July of 1992 similar to the treatment technique outlined in the article. Because of the stability of Evanston’s water, this treatment process is very effective in reducing lead levels in the water and is the primary reason continuous compliance has been achieved.

The article points out that flushing of the line for a few minutes to remove water that has been in contact with lead pipes or fixtures (brass also contains a small amount of lead) greatly reduces exposure and the City of Evanston’s Utilities Department concurs. However, Evanston officials also feel that water that has been left standing in the pipe for 6-8 hours will possess lead levels that are still very low and in most cases at a level below the detection level.

The article also pointed out that the City of Chicago will perform lead testing for a property owner free of charge. They can offer this service due to the fact that they possess the equipment necessary to perform lead testing pursuant to IEPA guidelines. This equipment is quite expensive and Evanston cannot justify the expense when compared with using outside labs such as UL to perform these and other similar tests.

For information on lead or lead testing, contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD or visit www.epa.gov/lead.

Much of the information discussed here can also be found in more detail by reading the City of Evanston’s Water Quality Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) which can be found on the website here>>>