A test of Greenwood Elementary School’s water showed elevated arsenic levels in September, which was three months before Woodstock School District 200 officials notified parents about the matter, documents show.
District 200 officials said the
Illinois Department of Public Health did not alert them to the situation until December, after two more tests showed arsenic levels above U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
In 2001, the EPA set a standard for arsenic levels in public drinking water systems at 10 parts per billion.
District 200 had been testing its water quarterly. An April test showed acceptable levels, and a September test showed arsenic at
11 parts per billion, documents show.
The public health department did not alert the district to the anomaly because tests had been normal up to that point, which means the average level still was within acceptable guidelines, District 200 spokesman Kevin Lyons said.
Two tests in November showed levels at 32 parts per billion and
18 parts per billion, and the department notified the district of the violation in December, Lyons said.
The district then notified parents, shut off Greenwood’s water and provided bottled water to students.
A December water test showed lowered arsenic levels, at which time the district resumed using the water. A test in January, however, showed that the levels had risen to 17 parts per billion. The district is not using the well water, Lyons said.
“Because we had the issue in between, we are going to be a lot more cautious as to when we turn the water back on,” he said. “We want to see a long period of constant, positive test results.”
The public health department could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Long-term exposure to arsenic can cause health problems such as skin and circulatory system damage. Greenwood Elementary, 4618 Greenwood Road, is the only school in the district on a well.