Dangerous Lead Exposures Hit Illinois’ Drinking Water

Illinois water pollution

2000 Illinois Homes in University Park Without Safe Drinking Water

Due to dangerous lead levels found in tap water, could the Illinois community of University Park become the next Flint, Michigan or Newark, New Jersey? It’s been nearly a month since University Park’s mayor declared a state of emergency sparked by a “do not consume water” advisory made by Aqua Illinois. Aqua Illinois is the private company that supplies water to University Park and other suburbs in Cook, Kane, Kankakee, Lake and Will counties. Aqua officials issued the order after detecting extremely elevated lead levels in the drinking water of 15 properties in University Park, Green Garden and Monee Townships in June of 2019 and suggested the problem would be fixed in just a “few days.” More than 2000 homes and thousands of community members are still without answers and safe to consume their home’s tap water.

Toxic lead exposures can happen in many ways but in this case likely occurred because of unkept, damaged and corroded water pipes and plumbing with lead solder, which allows the lead to leach into the same drinking water pumped into homes, schools, hospitals, businesses and everywhere else the pipes connected.

  • The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency recommends lead levels remain below 15 ppb.
  • In University Park, testing found lead levels to be as high as 1,700.
  • That highest level was on Blackhawk Drive in University Park.
  • Homes on Pebble Beach had 53 times higher lead levels than the EPA max.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that public health actions be initiated when the level of lead reaches these unsafe exposures.

Lead poisoning does lead to serious health issues and exposure through drinking water can affect nearly every system in the body, produces no apparent symptoms, and frequently goes unrecognized, especially in young children.

Who Is at Greatest Risk of Lead Poisoning?

Lead poisoning is particularly dangerous to infants and young children under the age of 6 as there is no safe blood lead level for this group. The CDC’s website says, “even the lowest levels have been shown to affect a child’s IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement.” And the effects of lead exposure are lifelong and cannot be corrected.

Experts use a reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter to identify children with blood lead levels that are much higher than most children’s levels. This level is based on the U.S. population of children ages 1-5 years who are in the highest 2.5 percent of children when tested for lead in their blood.

Adults are also at risk for lead exposure, especially pregnant women and nursing mothers. Many children and adults exposed to lead will not present sickness symptoms at first, and an official lead test performed by a doctor is the only real way to know if poisoning is present.

Levin & Perconti Can Help Your Family

For the Illinois families found to be exposed or poisoned in these communities, there will be opportunities for litigation. The toxic lead exposure attorneys at Levin & Perconti are well-experienced in these matters and take all cases, especially those involving children and pregnant women, with swift authority over holding wrongdoers accountable. Our Chicago-area legal team can help you receive compensation for medical bills and expenses, ongoing therapies, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Call us toll-free at 1-877-374-1412, in Chicago at (312) 332-2872 or complete our online case evaluation form. You have nothing to lose because we are not paid unless we recover money for you and your loved ones.

Also read: Illinois Cancer Trends Identified From Ethylene Oxide Exposure

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