Report: High levels of toxic lead found in Chicago tap water

Midwest

Water flows from a bathroom tap. (Photo Illustration by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

CHICAGO (NewsNation) — According to a Guardian analysis of City of Chicago data, 5% of tap water tests performed for thousands of residents found lead “at or above U.S. government limits.”

The Guardian’s investigation enlisted water engineer Elin Betanzo, who was instrumental in uncovering the Flint, Michigan, water crisis of 2014-2016. 

Lead, a neurotoxin, has been linked to lower IQ levels, behavioral disorders and worsening performance in reading and math, according to the Guardian.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot promised in 2020 to start replacing toxic pipes but so far has fallen drastically short. As of April of 2022, just “74 of the approximately 400,000 lead service lines responsible for contaminating Chicagoans’ tap water” have been replaced, according to WTTW-TV in Chicago.

Congress banned the use of lead pipes for tap water in 1986 as part of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974.

Flint’s water crisis started when the city tried to save money by taking water from the Flint River without treating it properly. Contaminated water flowed to the homes and businesses of approximately 100,000 residents of the majority Black city.

In 2021, a judge approved a $626 million deal to settle lawsuits filed by Flint residents.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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