By Lauren VictoryBy Lauren Victory

CHICAGO (CBS) — Nearly 1 in 5 homes showed an elevated level of lead in their water, a preliminary sample test of Chicago homes found.

There were at least six homes out of 20 tested on Whipple Street  that were at what the government calls “action” levels by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ryan Einfeldt, a father of two, learned that lead levels inside his Irving Park East home fluctuated after the city put a new water main on his block.

Einfeldt said he would have expected lead levels to go down as a result.

The results at his residence are not dangerously high by federal standards but enough to cause concern..

A Department of Water Management study showed 51 of 296 homes in a citywide sample came back with lead level increases, or 17 percent.

“If some of us had higher levels and others didn’t. Is it due to pipes in our homes or some other factor?” Einfeldt said.

It could be related to the installation of new water meters, city officials say. The Water Department will continue the tests to try to narrow down the cause.

Officials are urging calm.

“This is not Flint,” said city Health Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita, referring to widespread water contamination in Flint, Michigan. “This is not a public health crisis.”

A water department spokeswoman, Megan Vidis, said the city has notified all residents with elevated lead and sends a team of experts to help identify the problem and recommend solutions.

After hearing about Einfeldt’s results, neighbor Christopher Kraft said he wants his water tested.

The city says 82 percent of homes tested do not appear to be affected after water mains and meters were installed. Officials suspect old lead lines from the street to homes could be the cause.

The city now plans to look into the feasibility of replacing lead lines in the streets, which is estimated to cost billions of dollars.



Lauren Victory