- Associated Press - Thursday, April 27, 2017

DECATUR, Ill. (AP) - A school district in central Illinois is taking steps to remediate areas with elevated lead levels after receiving results of state-mandated testing in six district buildings.

Decatur Public Schools spokeswoman Maria Robertson told the Herald & Review (https://bit.ly/2qbTprC ) the water sources found to have any trace of lead were shut off until repairs could be made.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s federal standards require action to be taken if lead levels exceed 15 parts per billion. An Illinois law signed in January required schools to test and mandates that school districts notify parents and staff of results above 5 parts per billion.

Katie Miller, whose two daughters attend one of the elementary schools being repaired, said she isn’t too concerned about the situation and that the district handled it well.

“They did the testing to make sure it’s corrected, and I’m comfortable with the fact that they’re keeping up with the testing,” she said. “I’m happy they did the testing and they were forthcoming with the information.”

Jim Gortner, director of buildings and grounds, said the law requires testing sources including water fountains and classroom sinks, but excludes bathroom sinks and basins used by janitorial staff.

He said the district did similar testing about 25 years ago and addressed areas where lead levels exceeded 15 parts per billion.

The new standard requires testing in all buildings constructed before Jan. 1, 2000, that house children in first grade and younger. Gortner said the district is testing all buildings with children in sixth grade and younger.

“We’re focusing on the smaller children first,” he said.

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Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com

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