Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Tammy Duckworth asked the Environmental Protection Agency Monday to evaluate the effectiveness of regulations controlling the amount of lead and copper in water and to create a new limit for lead in drinking water that is consistent with health risks.
“This is troubling as almost 80 percent of Chicago homes are connected to lead-containing pipelines and public health officials agree that there is no safe level of lead,” the Illinois legislators said in a statement.
Durbin and Duckworth also urged the EPA to work with state and local officials to inform the public when lead contamination has been found.
Nancy Grantham of the EPA told Ward Room that the agency would respond to Durbin and Duckworth's letter.
"EPA is committed to improving the public health protection provided by the Lead and Copper Rule and is actively considering potential revisions to the rule," Grantham told Ward Room. "EPA’s primary goal is to improve the effectiveness of the Lead and Copper rule in reducing exposure to lead and copper from drinking water."
A 2013 EPA study found elevated levels of lead in half of the Chicago homes that were tested, according to a recent Chicago Tribune report.
This comes on the heels of the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The problem arose after the city began sourcing their water from the Flint River in 2014 and corrosive water caused aging pipes to leach lead into the city’s water supply.
“The current tragedy in Flint, Michigan, is a startling example of what can happen when these issues go untreated,” the statement said. “The EPA must not wait until another city faces a lead contamination water crisis before acting.”