High lead found in 24 percent of Chicago Park District fountains

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Nearly a quarter of outdoor Chicago Park District water fountains have tested high for levels of lead, officials announced Monday.

Out of 1,891 drinking fountains, 445 were found to have lead levels higher than the “action level” of 15 parts per billion, according to results from an EPA-protocol testing program released by the park district. That’s about 24 percent of all outdoor fountains.

An additional 14 indoor fountains and sinks also tested high out of 544, which is less than 3 percent.

“These fountains will undergo further testing, and will be removed, repaired or replaced, as necessary,” a park district statement said. “The safety of our patrons is our highest priority, and we are doing everything in our power to address this situation in a quick and thorough manner.”

A breakdown of where the affected fountains are was posted online by the park district.

About 80 percent of city buildings are connected to water mains by outdated lead pipes, which were banned in 1986. Water management conducts 24-hour testing of the water it sends to Chicago and 125 suburbs, but lead can leach into the water from old, corroded pipes. City officials announced in April that residents can have their water tested by calling 311.