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Results of NIU water testing released

November 16, 2015

Photo of a glass of waterfrom Justin Bend, NIU Heating Plant

Dear Northern Illinois University Community:

The representatives of your water system, Northern Illinois University – DeKalb IL0375500, appreciate your participation in the lead tap monitoring program. As required by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Act, we sample and test your water for lead in your drinking water every three years.

We are happy to report that all sample results, as well as the 90th percentile value for our water system, are below the lead action level of 15 parts per billion.

As you can see in the test results table below, there was one initial sample that tested above the acceptable level. Reporting this result would still have given our water system a passing grade, as the EPA requires action when 20% of a system’s samples are above 15 parts per billion. However, when we received this result, we went back to that test port source and discovered that the sample had been taken from a soft water line that supplies a mechanical hot water heating system. The sample port should have been in the city cold water supply line. This mistake was corrected and another sample was drawn and sent to our local lab. This test result was well below the EPA’s action level for lead in drinking water.

Date of SampleSample IDSample LocationPresence of LeadRemarks/Action
28-Aug-15LP2J001Physical PlantNo Lead Detected 
27-Aug-15LP2J002Stevenson Towers A WingNo Lead Detected 
27-Aug-15LP2J003Stevenson Towers B WingNo Lead Detected 
27-Aug-15LP2J004Stevenson Towers C WingNo Lead Detected 
27-Aug-15LP2J005Stevenson Towers D WingNo Lead Detected 
28-Aug-15LP2J006Grant Towers A Wing10.5 ppbBelow 15 ppb – no action
28-Aug-15LP2J007Grant Towers B WingNo Lead Detected 
28-Aug-15LP2J008Grant Towers C WingNo Lead Detected 
28-Aug-15LP2J009Grant Towers D WingNo Lead Detected 
26-Aug-15LP2J014Lincoln Hall A WingNo Lead Detected 
26-Aug-15LP2J015Lincoln Hall B WingNo Lead Detected 
26-Aug-15LP2J016Lincoln Hall C WingNo Lead Detected 
27-Aug-15LP2J017Lincoln Hall D WingNo Lead Detected 
25-Aug-15LP2J018Recreation CenterNo Lead Detected 
25-Aug-15LP2J019Graham HallNo Lead Detected 
25-Aug-15LP2J020Evans Field HouseNo Lead Detected 
27-Aug-15LP2J027Holmes Student CenterNo Lead Detected 
26-Aug-15LP2J035Montgomery HallNo Lead Detected 
25-Aug-15LP2J039Music BuildingNo Lead Detected 
25-Aug-15LP2J040Visual Arts91.4 ppbFound port in soft water line.
Corrected and sample redrawn
12-Nov-15LP2J040Visual ArtsLess than 2 ppbBelow 15 ppb – no action*

* This test was performed by The City of DeKalb, which is a State Certified Laboratory to test for lead in drinking water.

What Does This Mean?

Under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA set the action level for lead in drinking water at 15 ppb (parts per billion). This means utilities must ensure that water from the customer’s tap does not exceed this level in, at least, 90 percent of the homes sampled (90th percentile value). The action level is the concentration of a contaminant which, if exceeded, triggers treatment or other requirements which a water system must follow. If water from the tap does exceed this limit, then the utility must take certain steps to correct the problem. Because lead may pose serious health risks, the EPA set a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) of zero for lead. The MCLG is the level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs allow for a margin of safety.

What Are The Health Effects of Lead?

Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones, and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother’s bones, which may affect brain development.

What Can I Do To Reduce Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water?

  • Run your water to flush out lead. If water hasn’t been uses for several hours, run water for 15-30 seconds or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature before using it for drinking or cooking. This flushes lead-containing water from the pipes.
  • Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.
  • Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
  • Look for alternative sources or treatment of water. You may want to consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter. Read the package to be sure the filter is approved to reduce lead or contact NSF International at 800-NSF-8010 or for information on performance standards for water filters.
  • Test your water for lead. Call us at (815) 753-1151 to find out how to get your water tested for lead. The City of DeKalb is a certified lab to test for lead in drinking water.

For More Information

Call us at (815) 753-1151. For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home and the health effects of lead, visit EPA’s web site at, call the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-LEAD, or contact your health care provider.