To prevent public health crises that result from widespread lead contamination in drinking water, community water supplies are required to closely monitor their drinking water quality.
Lead (Pb) exposure is associated with many health effects, like neurodevelopmental impairment, distractibility, impulsivity, shortened attention span, and reduced IQ. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that no level of Pb exposure is safe, so Pb exposure in children should be prevented. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s lead and copper rule sets an action level of 15 micrograms per liter (μg/L), or parts per billion, for lead at customer taps for public water supplies. (If more than 10% of customer taps sampled exceed this value, additional actions to control corrosion must be undertaken.)
However, the state of Illinois does not regulate domestic wells for water quality. Studies in several other states suggested that water-borne lead might be a concern in homes with domestic wells, so researchers at the Illinois State Water, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northern Illinois University, designed a study to learn if this was also true in Illinois.