Champaign Teachers Union Pleased With District’s Efforts To Address Lead Concerns

April 23, 2018
 
A report released last fall revealed elevated levels of lead in samples from 43 sinks and six drinking fountains Unit 4 school buildings.

A report released last fall revealed elevated levels of lead in samples from 43 sinks and six drinking fountains Unit 4 school buildings.

Sam Dunklau/NPR Illinois

The teachers union for Champaign Unit 4 schools says the district is working to address their concerns regarding lead detected in samples collected from school buildings. 

Earlier this year, the Champaign Federation of Teachers called on the school district to act quickly to address concerns over lead in the water. A report released last fall revealed elevated levels of lead in samples from 43 sinks and six drinking fountains Unit 4 school buildings.

Union President Jennifer White said the district is working to replace water fountains and install filters on sinks at Unit 4 school buildings that tested high for lead. She said she’s happy with the district for performing additional rounds of testing and providing schools with recommendations for what to do about faucets that tested high for lead.

"If there were water fountains that were testing above the limits, the recommended change is to replace those water fountains with bottle-filling stations," White said. Some sinks will be converted to be used for hand washing only. Other sinks inside classrooms that are used to provide drinking water to students will be equipped with filters.

White said she's still working with school officials on a plan to ensure those filters are monitored and replaced as needed, to ensure children have safe drinking water.

The district recently arranged a private meeting for White, a local pediatrician and two public health representatives. After looking at the data from lead testing, White said the public health officails were confident that there wasn't need for immediate remediation, "other than what the district is already putting in place."

The Illinois Department of Public Health website states that lead poisoning is the number one environmental illness of children, and exposure comes primarily through lead-based paint in homes built before 1978. Illinois has one of the highest rates in the U.S. for the number of children with elevated blood levels.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman

Story source: WILL