As Galesburg continues to draw national attention for its heightened lead levels, all but one of Knox’s buildings has tested negative for lead, copper and bacteria, according to reports from a Peoria laboratory. George Davis Hall came back with 1800 micrograms per deciliter of copper — 500 micrograms per deciliter over the action level.
“It’s not great, but it’s not lead,” said Vice President for Finance Keith Archer.
The laboratory retested the building, and Archer said the tests are due back soon.
Though the vast majority of buildings are in the clear, Knox has plans to replace the older service lines in 11 buildings this summer, including lines in Casa Latina and Sigma Chi.
“We’re encouraged by the results, but we want to replace all those lines for the next time someone asks,” Archer said. He couldn’t estimate how much it might cost to replace the lines, but PDC Laboratories, Inc. estimates that the water labs may have cost about $754.
The college decided to test its water after reports revealed that Galesburg has exceeded federal standards for lead in 22 of 30 tests since 1992, and rates of lead poisoning in Knox County children nearly double the state average. Last week, the U.S. EPA recommended Galesburg distribute bottled water and water filters and test for corrosion — a move that might cost the city about $90,000.
Julia Rada, who works as Drinking Water Projects Manager for PDC Laboratories, couldn’t comment on Knox’s specific tests, but said that the lab has seen an influx in testing since Galesburg made national news. She emphasized that lead can come from a number of places — not just drinking water.
“It can also come from paint and soil and dust as a source as well. … I think that’s an important piece of the puzzle,” Rada said.
She recommended people contact their municipality for additional information and keep tabs on the Illinois EPA’s drinking water watch.
Knox hasn’t tested yet for lead paint — a problem that’s prevalent in buildings built before 1978. In Galesburg, 81 percent of homes were built before then, but Archer insists that Knox has taken precautions to regularly maintain buildings and keep the problem encapsulated.